08 July 2022
Zimbabwe is set to launch its first satellite, ZimSat-1, into orbit in July, after nearly a year-long delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The nanosatellite will be launched from the Japanese KIBO Module – Japan’s science module for the International Space Station (ISS). The satellite is expected to enhance mineral exploration, monitoring of environmental hazards and droughts, mapping human settlements and disease outbreaks, among many other capabilities.
The programme is considered the first baby steps of the country’s fledgling space programme, which was launched in 2018 following the launch of the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA).
ZimSat-1 was built by local engineers working with the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan and will be launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
ZINGSA coordinator Painos Gweme told The Sunday Mail that the satellite will be launched between July and August depending on weather conditions.
Once ZimSat-1 is in orbit, Zimbabwe will become the 14th African country to enter space. The nanosatellite is an earth observation CubeSat, which falls under the small satellites category deployed by new space-faring countries.
Egypt has the most launched satellites (nine), followed by South Africa (eight), Algeria (seven), Nigeria (six) and Morocco (three). Ghana, Sudan, Ethiopia, Angola, Kenya, Rwanda and Mauritius complete the list.
Since its launch, ZINGSA has developed a National Wetlands Masterplan through its Geospatial Science and Earth Observation department. The department also developed a Revised Agro-Ecological Map for Zimbabwe, which was last updated in 1960.