Uganda and Zimbabwe announced on Monday 7 November the launching of their first satellites into space. The aim is to help collect data to monitor disasters, support agriculture and improve mineral mapping.
Zimbabwe, a southern African country in great economic difficulty, has launched the Zimsat-1 nano-satellite. Uganda announced on Monday that it had sent the first satellite in its history, PearlAfricaSat-1, into space. These two satellites were built by Zimbabwean and Ugandan engineers respectively.
The launching of the first Zimbabwean and Ugandan satellites is part of the 5th phase of the joint global multi-nation Birds project (BIRDS-5 project). Indeed, Uganda is one of several African countries, which benefits from the Birds Satellite project launched in 2015 by the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan. For example, since 2015, the Kyushu Institute of Technology of Japan has been running the BIRDS program with the aim of fostering long-term and sustainable space organisation in the participating countries. BIRDS-5 is a constellation of CubeSats developed by Uganda, Zimbabwe and Japan that will be deployed from the space station. The Ugandan team consists of engineers Edgar Mujuni, Bonny Omara and Derrick Tebusweke.
The BIRDS-5 project makes multi-spectral observations of the Earth using a commercially available camera and demonstrates a high-energy electronic measuring instrument. BIRDS also introduces students from developing countries to satellite development, laying the foundation for similar space technology projects in their home countries that could lead to sustainable space programs.