02 July 2021
Mauritius became the latest African country to have a presence in space, following the successful launch of a CubeSat – MIR-SAT1 on board the SpaceX Falcon 9 from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, USA.
MIR SAT, which stands for Mauritius Imagery and Radiotelecommunication Satellite, is a nano satellite (a term reserved for any satellite with a mass from 1kg-10kg. Once it is deployed and begins orbiting Earth, the ground station at the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC) in Ebene will be able to contact it a few times a day.
Data the MRIC receives will help the Indian Ocean nation with disaster management and prevention. The ground station will also allow the receipt of data and telemetry from other satellites.
Furthermore, the satellite is also expected to help survey the ocean to improve the management of marine resources and to tackle the depletion of stocks. It will also monitor areas where there is frequent flooding.
The MIR-SAT1 was built by a team of researchers at the MRIC, which advises the Mauritian government on matters concerning applied research, innovation and research and development issues.
There was also help from the country’s Amateur Radio Society and a team from AAC-Clyde Space UK, a company that provides rapidly manufactured spacecraft, services and solutions, designed with quality and innovation in mind, for the small satellite market.
While a number of African countries have launched satellites (44 satellites in total) the MIR-SAT1 is only Africa’s second satellite this year.