The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have selected a team from the Mauritius Research Council for the third round of the UNOOSA-JAXA KiboCUBE programme.
The Mauritius Research Council is the third successful candidate to participate in this capacity-building initiative. The KiboCUBE programme was launched in 2015 by UNOOSA and JAXA to offer educational and research institutions from developing countries the opportunity to develop cube satellites (CubeSats) for deployment from the International Space Station (ISS).
Through KiboCUBE, the Mauritius Research Council will be able to deploy the first Mauritian satellite “MIR-SAT1”. The satellite will include a longwave infrared thermal camera that will allow it to collect thermal infrared images of Mauritius and its surrounding areas. The team also aims to test the onboard communication capabilities of the CubeSat by studying the satellite’s capacity to transfer information via satellite radio wave frequency.
The announcement of the selection of the Mauritius Research Council for the third round of KiboCUBE took place during a side event at UNISPACE+50. During the same event, UNOOSA and JAXA, on the basis of their successful collaboration to date, also signed an amendment to their Memorandum of Understanding to extend the duration of the KiboCUBE project for three more years, and to allow the selection of a second entity in a single round. Due to the large number of high quality applications for the third round of KiboCUBE, UNOOSA and JAXA have agreed to find an additional opportunity for a second entity from the third round applicants. The selection will be announced in northern hemisphere fall timeframe in 2018.
“The UNOOSA-JAXA KiboCUBE partnership is a great example of a triangular capacity-building initiative, where UNOOSA partners with a space-faring nation to assist non-space-faring nations in the development of their space technology, research and exploration. The third round of the KiboCUBE programme is yet another exciting step towards increasing the space capabilities of countries and ensuring we close the “space divide” between those that have access to space and its benefits, and those that do not. My congratulations to the Mauritius Research Council for their selection for the next round of KiboCUBE. I look forward to seeing the development and deployment of the first Mauritian satellite,” said UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo
“It is exciting news that JAXA and UNOOSA have reached an agreement to further the partnership in the KiboCUBE programme, which assists the sustainable development of space technologies in non-space-faring countries. I am delighted about the announcement that the first ever small satellite from Mauritius was picked in the third selection round of the KiboCUBE project. Currently, Kibo is the only module on the International Space Station equipped with a small satellite deployment function. I am pleased about JAXA’s contribution to the development of space technologies in various nations around the world utilizing the unique capacity of Kibo,” said JAXA ISS Program Manager Koichi Wakata.
“The Republic of Mauritius is deeply honoured that the first Mauritian Infrared Satellite initiative by the Mauritius Research Council, operating under the aegis of the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation, has been selected for the 3rd round of the UNOOSA/JAXA KiboCUBE Programme. Mauritius intends to use its first CubeSat platform to acquire knowledge on satellite technology and how to efficiently collect and process land and ocean data coming from space. This big data analysis will lead to better monitoring, decision-making and management of both land based and maritime activities, and advancements in capacity-building, research and development and innovation, which will ultimately benefit the people of Mauritius. We believe that this space project could serve as a model for other Small Island Developing States,” said Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation of Mauritius Yogida Sawmynaden.
The first round of the KiboCUBE initiative enabled a team from the University of Nairobi in Kenya to develop a cube satellite that was successfully launched from the ISS on 11 May 2018. This was Kenya’s first satellite, and the first space hardware deployed under the auspices of the United Nations. A team from the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala was selected for the second round of the initiative. Their satellite is expected to be deployed in 2018, subject to the ISS operational requirements and progress of the CubeSat development.
Further information about the United Nations/Japan Cooperation Programme on CubeSat Deployment from the International Space Station (ISS) Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo), “KiboCUBE”, is available at: http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/psa/hsti/kibocube.html