Second satellite launch to boost Rwanda space programme

Tuesday May 28 2019

satellite

The satellite was built by Rwandan engineers in a Japanese lab and cost $200,000. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

MOSES K. GAHIGI
By MOSES K. GAHIGI
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The country’s investment in space research and training is bearing fruit, after the government announced that it is set to launch its second satellite into space in July.

The satellite, which will be sent to the low Earth orbit, will provide weather information as well as useful meteorological data for agricultural purposes and disaster preparedness.

The satellite was built by Rwandan space engineers in a Japanese lab, and cost up to $200,000. The satellite will fly into space in July to take supplies.

Once launched into space it will also provide data for Internet of Things (IoT) to be used in a number of fields. It is also expected to provide the much-needed data in safeguarding the country’s environment and other sectors.

A few years ago the country embarked on developing its space engineering capacity, and went into partnership with Tokyo University, which continues to support this agenda by offering Rwandan engineers training and research.

The Minister for ICT and Innovation Paula Ingabire said this is just the beginning of a broader space programme for the country.

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The satellite does not weigh more than 1.33 kilogrammes per unit, is fitted with two ultra-resolution cameras, an antenna for data collection and a sensor.

According to Risk Atlas for Rwanda, a combined assault by disasters could cost the country Rwf100 billion in losses, which amounts to more than the budget allocated to the entire agriculture sector.

The country is in partnership with OneWeb, a global communications company, which recently announced a partnership to support a satellite ecosystem in Rwanda, with the aim of connecting remote schools to the Internet.

The partnership kicked off in February with the launch of Icyerekezo a global satellite for the country.

Last week, the country also launched the first space and telecoms fellowship in Kigali, which will facilitate young engineering students to build satellites and telecommunication technology.

So far, the fellowship has selected up to 50 candidates who have prior training in telecommunication.

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