Monday, November 7 was a day steeped in history for Uganda as the country launched its first satellite into space.
The satellite, called the PearlAfricaSat-1, was the first of its kind to be launched by the landlocked East African country to the international space station and will be deployed to the low earth orbit on December, 2022.
Uganda’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Ms. Monica Musenero, said this of the feat,
“As a country, PearlAfricaSat-1 development presents opportunities for development of subsequent satellites locally in Uganda. This means our engineers and scientists will be providing practical solutions to the challenges that face Ugandan citizens as well as boosting the country’s international capacity to develop the space science and technology industry value chain.”
The satellite was built by Japanese engineers and three Ugandan engineers; Edgar Mujuni, Bonny Omara and Derrick Tebusweke.
Uganda handed over the satellite to NASA for transport to the international space station, from where the PearlAfricanSat-1 will be deployed to the low earth orbit.
Joining other 13 Other African countries
South Africa was the first African country to launch a satellite when it set off the SunSat-1 in 1999.
However, since 2016, it is Egypt that has led the way in deploying satellites into space, with nine satellites launched during that time. South Africa has had eight in the meantime, while Algeria has seven. Nigeria follows with six, and Morocco with three. Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia, Angola, Rwanda, Sudan, Mauritius and now Uganda all have one satellite launched.
In total, Africa has 42 satellites in space, with 21 of these having been launched since 2016.
Satellites are used to provide various kinds of information, for example, information on Earth’s clouds, air, oceans and land. They also help observe events such as wildfires, volcanoes and help scientists predict weather and climates.