Senegal Marks Historic Milestone with Handover of First Satellite

Source: CSUM

In a significant moment of technological achievement and cross-border collaboration, Senegal commemorated a groundbreaking milestone with the official transfer of its inaugural satellite. The formal handover occurred at the Centre Spatial Universitaire de Montpellier (CSUM), transferring the Cubesat to Prof. Moussa Baldé, Senegal’s Minister of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation. This satellite represents the successful culmination of an intensive two-year effort led by well-trained young Senegalese engineers and technicians specialising in space system development at CSUM.

Furthermore, the satellite’s mission is to gather crucial data on various physical parameters in Senegal, including rainfall, climatic patterns, floods, and evapotranspiration. This data will empower end users to assess precipitation, rainfall, wind, and temperature and effectively manage river water levels.

Dignitaries present at the handover ceremony included Mr Philippe Auge, President of the University of Montpellier; François Pierrot, Vice-President for International Relations of the University of Montpellier; Jean-Claude Gayssot, President of the Fondation Van Allen; Dr Gayane Faye, the Coordinator of the Senegalese Space Project, SENSAT; Laurent Dusseau, Director of the CSUM and the Van Allen Foundation; dedicated engineers involved in the project and a host of other esteemed guests.

                                                                 Source: Michel Pavageau

The proceedings commenced with a comprehensive retrospective, meticulously detailing the strides made in the design and construction of the Cubesat (dubbed GAINDESAT). The academic excellence at the University of Montpellier played a pivotal role in honing the skills of Senegalese engineers and technicians who worked on the project, underscoring their capability in satellite design, assembly and integration and setting the stage for future innovations in space exploration.

Integral to this momentous occasion was the signing of a pivotal agreement between the Université de Montpellier and Senegal, solidifying their commitment to creating a second satellite. This agreement signifies a progressive step in technological advancement and underscores the strength of a collaborative partnership rooted in shared aspirations and mutual support.

Within the meticulously controlled environment of a clean room, the official handover ceremony evoked waves of emotions – relief, satisfaction, and unbridled joy radiating from the faces of those involved. The depth of this accomplishment was apparent, a testament to the collective dedication and relentless efforts invested in this groundbreaking endeavour. Furthermore, gratitude resonated throughout the proceedings, acknowledging the profound opportunity to contribute to a venture that transcends borders and embodies the epitome of human ingenuity. The Senegalese sentiment “Nio far!” encapsulated the collective spirit that propelled this collaborative journey – a celebration of innovation, resilience, and unity.

                                                                     Source: Michel Pavageau

In early January, the satellite is set to leave for the United States, initiating a pivotal phase as it prepares to join RIDE Space’s Vigoride, Momentus’s Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV). Senegal, CSUM, and the launch provider, Ride Space, inked an agreement last October. This agreement ensures the smooth incorporation of the satellite into Low Earth Orbit using Ride Space’s services. The launch of the satellite is anticipated to take place within the first quarter of 2024.

Moreover, the operational preparedness of Senegal’s satellite mission control centre in Diamniadio underscores the nation’s technological progress. This pivotal control hub, operationalised weeks back, marks another significant achievement bolstering Senegal’s presence in space exploration. This station is poised to play a pivotal role in advancing the country’s telecommunications, weather forecasting, and agricultural monitoring. Its strategic location enables swift response to emergencies, facilitates enhanced communication networks, and fosters collaborations with international space agencies.

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