Uganda’s September Satellite Launch Shifted to October 2022

The PearlAfricaSat-1 via Bonny Omara on Twitter

The launch of Uganda’s first satellite, the PearlAfricaSat-1 satellite, has been postponed and scheduled for 28 October 2022, according to Dr Monica Musenero, the Minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation. Previously set to launch on 28 September, the launch had to be postponed due to unfavourable weather conditions. One of the satellite development team, Bonny Omara, also confirmed the development, adding that satellite deployment into orbit will occur in early November.

The Ugandan government have also established an earth station at Mpoma in Mukono. The station will serve as the satellite’s operations and communications centre. According to local sources, the government set aside USD 200,000 (about Shs 716.3 million) to improve infrastructure at the station. Furthermore, the government has already invested over Shs 7 billion (USD 1,500,000) in the satellite project. Dr Musenero, defending the investment, explained that the satellite would improve weather and disaster prediction accuracy. The Minister added that this would optimise agricultural production, improve food security, and reduce preventable deaths in the Country.

The satellite’s development began in April 2020 with Uganda sending three graduate students to obtain training in satellite design, manufacture, and testing as part of a global programme initiated in 2015 by the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan. On Tuesday, May 10 2022, the three students, namely; Edgar Mujuni, Derick Tebusweke and Bonny Omara, successfully finished their work on a 10 cubic metre satellite named PearlAfricaSat-1 and handed it over to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for final testing.

The engineers have designed PearlAfricaSat-1 to provide research and observation data in six primary areas. These areas include weather forecast; land, water and mineral mapping; agriculture monitoring; infrastructure planning; border security, and disaster prevention.

The core missions for PearlAfricaSat-1 are a multispectral camera payload. The Multispectral Camera mission will provide about 20-metre resolution images for Uganda. This will consequently facilitate water quality, soil fertility, land use and cover analysis in the Nation. Furthermore, 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. After the satellite reaches orbit, the station will monitor its health status for a few days. After this, the satellite will begin executing its mission.


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