Tunisia’s first satellite (Challenge ONE) owned by TELNET is scheduled to be launched by Glavkosmos (GK) Launch Services on board Soyuz 2 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launched scheduled for 20 March (Tunisia’s Independence Day) will also carry the SIMBA (System for Improving Monitoring of the Behavior of Wild Animals) satellite designed to track wild animals around the Kenyan National Parks. The Soyuz 2 launch is scheduled for March 20, 2021 at 09:07 AM Moscow time.
Challenge ONE was announced in 2019 by Tunisian aerospace and telecommunications company, TELNET after it entered an agreement with the Russian operator of commercial launches of Soyuz-2 rockets, GK Launch Services. According to the agreement, Challenge ONE is going to be a precursor for a constellation of 30 satellites to be launched by 2023. Part of the agreement also involved SPUTNIX, a Russian private company, manufacturing high-tech microsatellite components and technologies. SPUTNIX’s involvement was to facilitate the development of the satellites and the establishment of R & D services for satellite components.
Challenge ONE is a research and innovation project that offers a new approach to information technology and its practical application. The results of Challenge ONE by Telnet will be used to create a constellation of 30 satellites.
Also in 2019, the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in collaboration with GK Launch Services announced a competition for a free launch of 1U CubeSat on the First Commercial Mission of GK Launch Services during the Global Conference on Space for Emerging Countries which held in Marrakech, Morocco. The winner of the competition was Sapienza University of Rome which designed the SIMBA satellite. GK Launch Services will send the SIMBA satellite into orbit for free, GK Director of Marketing Communications Mila Savelyeva announced at the 70th International Astronautical Congress in Washington DC.
The SIMBA satellite project team include students from Sapienza University of Rome, University of Tel Aviv (Israel) and University of Nairobi (Kenya). SIMBA, an acronym for System for Improving Monitoring of the Behavior of Wild Animals will track the behavior of animals of Kenya National Park in their natural habitat. For this purpose, special sensors are to be placed on certain animals of various species and sizes (from birds to large mammals), and the CubeSat will relay information about their migration.
Challenge ONE will be Africa’s first satellite of 2021, bringing the total number of African satellites to 43. Only one satellite was launched by the continent in 2020, while eight were launched in 2019.