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Ethiopia's historic space satellite, ET-RSS1: All you need to know

  • 2019-12-19 08:10:30
  • News

Ethiopians are looking forward to Friday, December 20, as the country launches its first satellite, the ET-RSS1, into space.

It is a 70kg MultiSpectral Remote Sensing Satellite, tested and set to be shot to space at 700km above earth’s surface.

A Twitter account dedicated to the launch, “the Ethiopia Remote Sensing Satellite, ETRSS,”: said: “For generations to come, Ethiopia will mark December 20 as a historical day. The day where its first satellite is launched.”

Ethiopia’s Innovation and Technology Minister Getahun Mekuria in November told reporters the satellite will be used for agricultural, mining, environmental protection and earth observatory purposes.

The move by the country is the latest example of space ambitions by a number of African nations. An initial launch date of December 17 was postponed to 20th because of unfavourable weather in the Chinese city, the Minister disclosed.

Announcement of the launch was made in November at a joint press briefing by Minister of innovation and technology minister and Ethiopian Space Science Technology Institute General Director, Dr Solomon Belay.

The heavy Chinese involvement

Reports indicate that the satellite was built in China and will be launched from a site there – i.e. The Entoto Observatory and Research Center. A control center has been set up on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

The minister said Ethiopian engineers took part in the satellite’s construction. Ethiopia had 21 scientists who have worked on the ETRSS1 project of which 5 are women.

Authorities say it shows a tremendous progress in empowering women in particular and scientists in general in the Horn of Africa nation.

Abiy visited Chinese space academy earlier this year during an official visit

When PM Abiy was Minister of Science and technology in 2016, he signed the agreement of the first Ethiopian Satellite, the very one that is to be launched.

In April this year, PM Abiy Ahmed visited the China Academy of Space Technology to inspect Ethiopia’s 70kg Multi-Spectral Remote Sensing Satellite ETRSS-1.

The Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute had been co-developing the Satellite through the support of the Chinese government.

“ETRSS-1 is to be launched into space before end of this year, according to the Gregorian calendar. The Satellite is expected to monitor weather patterns for better agricultural planning, drought early warning and forestry management,” the Prime Minister’s office said at the time.