The Europe-Africa Space Earth Observation High-Level Forum took place on Thursday and Friday, 10th and 11th of June 2021. It was organised in the framework of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal, with the support of the European Commission. The Forum aims to foster European-African cooperation on advanced earth observation (EO) and data processing systems and their applications in a user-driven approach. During the Forum, the CEO of the Egyptian Space Agency gave a presentation on the African Space Agency Headquarters and the African Development Satellite Space Mission.
African Space Agency Headquarters
In 2019, Egypt agreed to serve as the host nation to the African Space Agency. Consequently, in addition to preparing to launch more than two satellites in 2022, Egypt is also constructing the Headquarters of the Agency. According to Mohammed El- Quosy’s presentation at the Forum, the building will be located at The Space City in Cairo. Furthermore, Egypt plans to complete the four floored, 10945m squared building in July 2022. In addition, according to the same presentation, the nation has already set up a temporary location for the African Space Agency. The temporary headquarters is ready to be used and can accommodate up to 25 persons.
The African Space Agency, upon operationalization, will be the focal point of Africa’s collaboration with Europe and other non-African partners. Furthermore, according to the Agency’s establishing statute, the African Space Agency Act, one of the agency’s objectives is to strengthen “space missions on the continent to ensure optimal access to space-derived data, information, services, and products.”
African Development Satellite Space Mission
The North African country is also in the middle of operationalising the African Development Satellite Space Mission. The Egyptian Minister of High Education and Scientific Research announced the project in 2019. The Cairo Declaration by Egypt, Nigeria, Chad, Ghana, Sudan, Kenya, and Uganda in 2019, kickstarted it.
The project missions include
- to monitor the climate change phenomena on the African continent
- to demonstrate the human capabilities in Africa to develop a satellite mission
- develop an in-orbit technology demonstration for African subsystems.
The mission also includes capacity building schemes. An example is the building of infrastructure in participating countries like ground stations, etc. Furthermore, the mission plans to train three engineers from each of the five participating countries. The tentative date for the start of the on-job training is the 18th of July, 2021. The training will consequently take place at the Egyptian Space Agency and will last for two weeks.
The Mission also consists of two primary segments.
- The Space Segment – the mission will ensure the building of satellite systems by each participating country. Furthermore, detailed orientation training will be provided to teams.
- The Ground Segment – the mission will ensure the building of ground stations in each participating country. In addition, the ground stations will be connected. Furthermore, the AITC Centre in Cairo will be the location for the Assembly, Integration and Testing.
The Preliminary mission specifications for the satellites the mission will build include.
- Nanosatellite scale, (40 Kg)
- IR spectrometer at Co2 & CH4 absorption zone. 1.5 μm-central
- Hyperspectral camera. 0.4-2.01 μm.
- Sun-synchronous orbit 650 Km.
- Technology Demonstration units,
- Lifetime: 3 years
The Egyptian Space industry is preparing for a huge 2021/2022 with the launching of its “‘Next” satellites in December 2021, the inauguration of its Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) centre in September 2022 now the building of the African Space Agency headquarters.
Faleti Joshua is an avid lover of space in all its incomprehensible nature. He holds both an LL.B and a B.L degree. Joshua is a lover of music and a lawyer in his free time.