Zimbabwe puts its first ever satellite into orbit

CubeSat nanosatellites in space.

Zimbabwe announced Monday, November 7 the sending into space of the first satellite in its history. The small block, no bigger than a shoebox, is to take pictures of Earth and collect data. “History is on its way. #ZimSat1 is in space! », rejoiced on Twitter the spokesman of the government, Nick Mangwana, welcoming “an important scientific step for the country”.

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A rocket launched at 10:32 GMT in Virginia (United States) a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station (ISS), taking on board three CubeSats developed by Zimbabwe, Uganda and Japan, confirmed NASA. “Satellites will take pictures of Earth to gather data for weather and disaster monitoring”said the agency on Twitter in a post accompanied by a photo of the small concentrates of technology, each decorated with a national flag.

The images collected will also make it possible to distinguish bare soil from forests and agricultural land and can be used “to improve the livelihoods of the citizens of Uganda and Zimbabwe”NASA said in a statement.

A battered economy

Zimbabwe has been working on the project – the cost of which has not been disclosed – since 2018, after President Emmerson Mnangagwa, successor to Robert Mugabe, established the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (Zingsa). In this country plagued by poverty and a battered economy, the announcement of the putting into orbit of a satellite provoked strong reactions on social networks.

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“Launching a satellite when the economy is fragile is stupid. Poverty has increased over the past five years. You can’t buy a car when your family is starving”for example posted Andrew Gocha, a Twitter user who presents himself as “political analyst and economist”.

Zimbabwe has been plunged into a deep economic crisis for twenty years and remains the target of international sanctions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced in September further downward growth forecasts, in particular due to a drop in agricultural production.

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The World with AFP

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