Zimbabwe Sets Sights on the Stars: Three More Satellites to Launch into Space

Zimbabwe to Launch Three New Satellites into Space 

Zimbabwe is gearing up to expand its presence in space with the launch of three new satellites, as recently revealed.

This development comes after the successful launch of ZimSat-1, the country’s initial earth observation cubesat, in November 2022.

According to information obtained by this publication, ZimSat-2, boasting advanced features, is already in the works and is slated for launch later this year. Additionally, the Zimbabwean government has greenlit the development of two more satellites, currently in their early stages.

In a chat with The Sunday MailFinance Minister Mthuli Ncube revealed that like last time, Zimbabwe is collaborating with Japan. However, this time, Japan is taking steps to train Zimbabwean graduates, laying the groundwork for Zimbabwe to independently manufacture its own satellites in the future.

“You are aware that Japan was Zimbabwe’s partner in the development of our space satellite and now we are moving to phase two of building another space satellite, and again with the support of Japan, and they have been training our graduates in this regard. We are working on more satellites, with three more on the way,” Ncube said.

In a separate interview, Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINSGA) coordinator Mr Painos Gweme confirmed the development.

“I do confirm that in line with Zimbabwe’s national space strategy, ZINGSA is working on satellite manufacture, assembly, test and launch within a collaborative research framework with various partners,” he said.

Gweme emphasized Zimbabwe’s long-term goal of domestically manufacturing its own space satellites. He noted that concrete progress on the second satellite, ZimSat-2, is expected by June of this year. He added,

“The collaborative research programme is being done to build our own local human capacity capable of designing, manufacturing, testing and launching satellites, setting up ground stations, uplink and downlink data and monitor and control satellites throughout their life in orbit. So, by June this year, you will be able to get concrete feedback on the progress of the second satellite.”

Reportedly, ZimSat-2 will be equipped with advanced technological features to bolster Zimbabwe’s earth observation capabilities.

“The main purpose of these earth observation satellites is to provide scientific data of the current situation in the country. The ZimSat-1 was an educational earth observation cubesat with an objective of mapping land use, land cover and water quality monitoring. The second satellite will also be an earth observation satellite with more capabilities than ZimSat-1. The satellite will have more advanced sensors than the first one and the image resolution has been improved. This second satellite, like the previous and others to come, will ensure that local skills are developed, technology transfer is realised and localised. Above all, we will have a guaranteed continuation of landscape monitoring for the coming two to four years,” Gweme elaborated.

Presently, Zimbabwe’s first earth observation satellite, ZimSat-1, transmits data from orbit to the command centre at the Mazowe ground station. Since its launch, it has been instrumental in agricultural and mining mapping efforts.

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