Uganda has announced that it will launch its first satellite into the low Earth orbit from the International Space Station in collaboration with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) this September.
This was revealed by the country’s finance minister, Matia Kasaija, during his budget speech at Kololo Independence Ground.
The satellite project was first announced in 2019 and had been gaining media popularity since then. However, it took a significant step forward with the approval of funding for a ground station near Kampala.
The station, located at the Mpoma facility where Uganda already has two antennas, will serve as the operations and communications centre for satellites launched by the government and universities. The existing antennas are associated with Intelsat’s Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean satellites. The satellite, PearlAfricaSat-1, is the latest mission from the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite project.
Matia Kasaija stated that the ground station at Mpoma, Mukono, will receive data from the satellite, which will be used for various purposes including meteorology, environmental monitoring, urban planning, mineral exploration, and disaster management.
He also said that the government had allocated UGX 274.4 billion towards advancing innovation and technological development in the country. This aligns with reports from local media indicating that the country has invested around $2 million for technology, research, and development while also allocating another $200,000 solely to improve infrastructure at Mpoma.
The International University of East Africa (IUEA) applied to the Uganda Communication Commission(UCC) to get approval that will enable them to build their educational satellite, which would be named the Satellite One (IUEA UGA. SAT 1). Uganda will join Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Algeria, Morocco, Ethiopia and Kenya to be among African countries to have launched space programmes. However, PearlAfricaSat-1 will likely get a sister as another satellite might be underway in the country.