Zimbabwe’s ZimSat-1 Launch Moved to October 2022

Zimbabwean president, Emmerson Mnangagwa with the miniature ZIMSAT-1.

Zimbabwe is ready to launch its first satellite, ZimSat-1, into orbit next month after developing it through the BIRDS project. The satellite initially scheduled for launch in July 2022, is now provisionally scheduled to reach the International Space Station (ISS) on October 28, 2022, before being launched from the Japanese Kibo module. The launch is a milestone that will enhance mineral exploration and monitoring of environmental hazards and droughts. Additionally, it will aid in mapping human settlements and disease outbreaks, among other capabilities.

ZimSat-1 will be on board the Northrop Grumman (NG-18 Cygnus), a robotic resupply spacecraft that provides commercial cargo resupply services to the ISS on behalf of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The satellite is a 1U educational and amateur radio mission CubeSat manufactured by the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan. Many experts consider the programme the first baby steps of the country’s fledgling space programme.

Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) coordinator, Mr Painos Gweme, told The Sunday Mail that the satellite is scheduled to launch on October 28, 2022, after being put on hold because of adverse weather conditions. He noted that the schedule remains subject to auspicious weather conditions in space and other technical considerations.

Mr Gweme also remarked that ZINGSA also heightened its participation in space forums. He said this was to enhance the country’s preparedness for the programme. Regarding the importance of Zimbabwe’s space programme, Mr Gweme said, “Space science and technology present cheap, vibrant and more efficient methods which are superior to traditional ones in solving problems”. “Therefore, as a country, we had to adopt space science technologies to solve our national problems appropriately and, as such, the deployment of these technologies was long overdue.”

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