It has been 17 months since Ethiopia’s first remote sensing satellite- the ETRSS-1 satellite, was launched into orbit from the Chinese Long March 4B rocket. A full range of operational status checks has been carried out to confirm the satellite’s condition in orbit. The satellite is operating stably in low earth orbit, and all subsystems are functioning normally. In terms of payload, according to the situation reported by the satellite user ESSTI, the imaging performance of the satellite has met the requirements of all indicators.
The ground segment manager of ESSTI, Mr Yilkal Eshete, said “The result of all the operational checks carried out shows that the satellite is operating optimally. The data collected from ETRSS-1 has been used for applications in different sectors, including agriculture, infrastructure monitoring, water resource monitoring, flood monitoring, and other similar applications.”
The Addressing Climate Change Foundation implemented the ETRSS-1 project under the framework of “South-south cooperation”. In October 2016, the contract was signed between the National Development and Reform Commission (now Ministry of Ecology and Environment) of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of Science and Technology of Ethiopia. In May 2018, the project officially commenced development and was successfully launched in December 2019. The satellite was formally delivered to Ethiopia in March 2021, becoming China’s first foreign-aid satellite.
“ETRSS-1, the first Ethiopian Earth Observation Satellite, has been an eye-opening experience for the Ethiopian Space Program and the development of satellite technology in the country”, said Mr Teshome Toga. The Ethiopian Ambassador in China, during the satellite delivery ceremony, said, “The provision of this satellite by the government of China is significant in addressing the problems of climate change and its adverse effects, which is a common challenge for humankind”.
The satellite project adopts a “turn-key” solution, including space segment, ground segment, launch service and capacity training. The satellite weighs around 65kg, carries a multi-spectrum optical payload with 15m GSD (Group Sampling Data).
Since the launch of ETRSS-1, the ground station has been working on imaging and producing products. As of April 22, 2021, the ground station system has received 850GB satellite data and produced 970GB standard product, which has been used to aid decision making in various sectors.
To enhance the partners’ space capability, the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and DFH Satellite Company Ltd offers capacity development, including training on satellite R&D, engineering management, mission consultation, joint designing and development. Twenty-one Ethiopian engineers and scientists have been trained in satellite design, launch and operations. Since the satellite launch, those engineers have been conducting actual hands-on satellite operation activities, and by now, they can operate spacecraft independently with limited supervision.
The ETRSS-1 was designed and developed by DFH Satellite Company Ltd, also known as the “National Engineering Research Center of Small Satellites and Applications”, which provides high-performance satellite services for earth observation space communication, space science experiments and new technology demonstration missions. DFH Satellite Co Ltd is a subsidiary of CAST, the most powerful entity in China’s space industry. DFHSat has designed, manufactured and launched more than 330 spacecraft, including various kinds of satellite, spaceship, and a deep space probe.