Ethiopia is set to launch its first satellite into space

With Beijing’s assistance, Ethiopia is heading to space in just under a year.

The Horn of Africa nation announced it would launch its first earth observatory satellite in Sept. 2019, with China footing much of the bill. Officials from both governments’ space agencies met both in August and November (in Amharic) to advance talks on technological transfer and sign cooperative agreements on space activities.

Designed and built at a cost of $8 million, China will pay for $6 million of the capsule’s price, the head of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI) at Addis Ababa University Solomon Belay Tessema told The EastAfrican newspaper. The satellite will be launched from China, but its command and control center will be based in Ethiopia. Once launched, Addis Ababa says it will utilize it to collect data on changes in climate and weather-related phenomena.

The latest announcement marks a noteworthy development to Ethiopia’s space ambitions, which started accelerating in the last few years. In 2016, the government established ESSTI as a way to fully exploitspace technologies for development purposes. In Jan. 2017, the ministry of science and technology announced it would launch a satellite into orbit in three to five years to improve its weather-monitoring capabilities. This followed the launch of a privately-funded, multi-million-dollar astronomical observatory in the Entoto hills overlooking Addis Ababa—a one-of-its-kind station that would allow Ethiopia to observe both the northern and southern hemisphere skies. Just this month, ESSTI announced plans to build (in Amharic) a satellite assembly and test center. Read more...

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