The national space agencies of Egypt, Kenya and Uganda have been selected as the first awardee of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)’s Access to space for all Bartolomeo programme. This selection is as a result of their successful “ClimCam” project, which the winning countries jointly entered into the programme. Consequently, they will be developing a remote sensing camera to monitor weather, floods and climate change. UNOOSA made this announcement during the second day of the 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Dubai.
The three institutions have agreed to an open data policy. This will entail sharing information and images from the project to guide climate change mitigation efforts across Africa. In addition to its direct goals, the project will also demonstrate space technology developments made in Africa. This demonstration will consequently inspire African space engineers and scientists.
UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo said: “Together with Airbus, and thanks to the ingenuity of the brilliant selected researchers, we are making it possible for this module made in Africa to fly onboard the ISS”. According to her, the project will acquire precious insights for the East African region to address pressing challenges. Furthermore, it will increase the resilience of East Africa’s agricultural sector, potentially saving many lives and building a better future. It will also be an important inspiration for talent in Africa to join the space sector.
”We are very pleased to welcome this UNOOSA-backed team with their African climate mission as a passenger on the Bartolomeo platform,” said Andreas Hammer, Head of Space Exploration at Airbus Defence and Space. He added that Airbus’ space experts will take care of all aspects of the mission. This includes the preparatory formalities, payload launch and installation, operations and data transfer. This ensures the team can concentrate solely on developing and exploring their environmental monitoring payload.
“We are very happy to win this opportunity in such a world-class competition, the team would like to express gratitude to the UNOOSA and AIRBUS for this opportunity,” said Ayman Ahmed, Team leader at the Egyptian Space agency and ClimCam project coordinator. “We understand that challenges exist in our region; climate change is having a growing impact on Africa and contributing to food insecurity, and stress on water resources in east Africa as well. Having an imaging system at ISS allows us to monitor that effect in our home countries. We do realize the challenge of developing such a device to operate onboard the ISS with very critical and challenging design constraints”. Ayman continued; “The competition was challenging, but receiving this opportunity is just the beginning for our team to learn more and acquire great experience in the field of space technology and its application.”
The award is the result of a Bartolomeo partnership with Airbus Defence and Space GmbH. The partnership seeks to provide UN Member States with the opportunity to accommodate a payload on the Bartolomeo external platform. The Airbus Bartolomeo external platform is a structure on the International Space Station. In addition, the platform will accommodate and operate payloads provided by institutions in the participating countries. The organisers encouraged developing countries to apply for the mission.
UNOOSA and Airbus announced the opportunity at the 70th IAC in Washington. D.C.
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.