Ethiopia is set to launch its first earth observatory satellite in September 2019, joining seven other African countries that have put satellites into orbit.
Dr Solomon Belay Tessema, the director general of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute at the Addis Ababa University, commented that the satellite will be launched from China although the control and command station will remain in Ethiopia, adding that the preliminary design has been done by its scientists.
Dr Solomon also commented that China had provided training and $6m for the project. Twenty Ethiopian aerospace engineers are involved in the satellite project along with 60 masters and PhD students taking part in research and training at the space institute as well as the country’s Entoto Observatory and Research Centre.
The design, development and manufacturing of the satellite has been done in collaboration with the Chinese and has cost $8m.
Our main goals for launching this first satellite are two. The first is to build technology application capacity and skills of our engineers through collaborations with different countries space scientists and institutions. The second is to save the country from spending money buying data and information it could collect for its development agenda,” said Dr Solomon, adding that the experience will enable the Ethiopian scientists to build and launch the second satellite independently.
The Entoto observatory centre, the only of its kind in the region, has two one-metre telescopes and a spectrograph to measure wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation.
Ethiopia is collaborating with universities and observatory centres from around the world including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, South Korea, Chile and South Africa for this project.