Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) to inspect the ETRSS-1 earth observation satellite, according to the Office of the Prime Minister.
The 70kg multi-spectral remote sensing satellite ETRSS-1 is being developed in collaboration with the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI) through the support of the Chinese government.
The China Academy of Space Technology won the contract for the in-orbit delivery of the satellite following the announcement of bilateral space cooperation between China and Ethiopia. In the space cooperation agreement, the Chinese Government pledged to provide USD 6 million grant and training to cover the cost of the development of the satellite, which is estimated to cost USD 8 million.
Photo Credit: The Office of the Prime Minister via Facebook
Recall that in October 2016, the Ethiopian Council of Ministers approved the Establishment of Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI). Following the establishment of the Space Institute, the Ethiopian Council of Ministers announced the nation’s ambition to launch an earth observatory satellite into orbit in 3-5 years to improve its weather-monitoring capabilities.
The ETRSS-1 will be Ethiopia’s first satellite in orbit if successfully launched by the last quarter of 2019, and the second satellite owned by an East African nation. Kenya is the only East African country to have launched a satellite into space. Ethiopia will become the 9th African country to have launched a satellite in space, joining the ranks of Ghana, Kenya and Angola with only one satellite each. South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco have launched three or more satellites into orbits.
Up to 20 Ethiopian aerospace engineers are directly involved in the preliminary and critical design and development of the satellite, according to Dr Solomon Belay Tessema, the Director General of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute at the Addis Ababa University.
The goal of the collaboration and knowledge transfer is to enable Ethiopian Engineers to “design, build and launch the second satellite independently.”
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Editor at Space in Africa. He writes about Africa’s NewSpace companies and emerging national space programs.