Uganda is preparing to launch its first satellite by August 2022. The satellite, PearlAfricaSat-1, is the latest mission from the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite project. The initiative began in October 2019 as part of a directive by Uganda’s President to develop a National Space Agency and Institute.
Uganda signed the collaborative research agreement with the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech), Japan. The agreement involved enrolling and upskilling three graduate engineers to design, build, test, and launch the first satellite for Uganda. Consequently, Japan registered three Ugandan graduate engineers, including; Bonny Omara, Edgar Mujuni, and Derrick Tebusweke.
The core missions for PearlAfricaSat-1 are a multispectral camera payload. The Multispectral Camera mission will provide about 20-metre resolution images for Uganda to facilitate water quality, soil fertility, and land use and cover analysis. The satellite will play a vital role in the oil and gas operation by monitoring the East African crude oil pipeline. This will enable accurate weather forecasts by gathering remote sensor data for predicting landslides and drought. Once the satellite reaches orbit, an Uganda ground station will monitor its health status for a few days before it starts executing its mission.
In 2019, the Ugandan Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation announced the country had set aside a budget for capacity development in the area of satellite development, which will see the nation launch its first satellite by 2022. Furthermore, Uganda has plans to build a second satellite in Uganda while developing the capacity of young local engineers. Uganda intends to launch this second satellite by the end of 2024.
Earlier this year, the Uganda cabinet approved the proposal to build a satellite station in Uganda. The ground station consequently represented the main objective of developing Uganda’s space capabilities in a well-coordinated and harmonized manner.
PearlAfricaSat-1’s operating ground station will be in Uganda, where its data will be subject to analysis and utilisation. By virtue of the ground station’s design, it will provide real-time communication with satellites in space. Furthermore, it will serve as a command-and-control centre for the satellite networks in space. The Country also expects to have completed constructing the station by the satellite’s launch and subsequent operation.