Ethiopia set to launch its first satellite in 2019 – with help from China

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Ethiopia’s space agency has announced plans to launch its first satellite during 2019, with financial and logistical help from Beijing.

The African nation says it will launch its first observatory satellite in September 2019. The vessel will be launched from a site in China while its command and control centre will be based in Ethiopia. The vessel is estimated to cost $8 million with China paying $6 million of the bill, according to the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI).

Ethiopia to launch first satellite

While African nations trail far behind wealthier countries when it comes to space programmes, a number of national space agencies have bee established across the continent and grown rapidly over a short period of time. For example, the South African National Space Agency focuses on using satellite data to avert natural disasters, having launched five satellites of its own in recent years.

So far, seven African nations have launched satellites and Ethiopia is set to join this list in 2019.

“Our main goals for launching this first satellite are two,” said Dr Solomon Belay Tessema, director-general at ESSTI, which is based at Addis Ababa University, in a statement.

“The first is to build technology application capacity and skills of our engineers through collaborations with different countries’ space scientists and institutions.”

While the second is to design, build and launch a second satellite independently after the initial project is completed, he said.

Featured image: By Rjruiziii – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24965504

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.