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Uganda’s First Satellite successfully Launched

Uganda’s first-ever satellite, PearlAfricaSat-1 has today been launched successfully.

The PearlAfricaSat-1 satellite whose development started in April 2020, was on Monday, successfully launched in a five-minute window that opened at 5:27 a.m. EST (1:27pm EAT) by America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The satellite which is a joint project between Uganda and Japan was developed by Ugandan engineers Edgar Mujuni, Bonny Omara, and Derrick Tebusweke as part of the BIRDS program, a cross-border interdisciplinary satellite project for non-space faring countries supported by Japan.

Engineers; Bonny Omara, Edgar Mujuni, and Derrick Tebusweke behind the development of Uganda’s first satellite.

Its launch follows Uganda’s agreement with Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) in Japan which involved up-skilling the three graduate engineers to design, build, test, and launch Uganda’s first satellite.

According to NASA, the launch which was supposed to take place on Sunday was rescheduled to Monday due to a fire alarm that occurred at the mission operations control center in Dulles, Virginia.

Dr Doreen Agaba, the technical lead of the Department of Aeronautics and Space Science, at the Science Technology and Innovation Secretariat said the satellite is loaded with more than 8,200 pounds of research, crew supplies, and hardware.

It was designed to provide research and observation data in six primary areas including weather forecast; land, water and mineral mapping; agriculture monitoring; infrastructure planning; border security, and disaster prevention.

Following its launch into space, PearlAfricaSat-1 will aid in research investigations including a study to better understand catastrophes that can occur after wildfires, to investigation ovary functions and provide about 20-metre resolution images for Uganda to facilitate water quality, soil fertility, and land use and cover analysis among others.

According to the engineers, the satellite will also play a vital role in the oil and gas operation by monitoring the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

Dr Monica Musenero, the Minister for Science and Technology, said the satellite will save Uganda from relying on satellite data from other countries which are sometimes blamed for inaccurate weather predictions in the country.

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