SPACE: First satellites from Uganda and Zimbabwe go to the Space Station this weekend under a Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite program (BIRDS).
The Cygnus spacecraft will carry them to the orbiting laboratory when it lifts off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia on Sunday.
Uganda is among several African, Asian, and South American countries benefiting from the Birds Satellite project initiated in 2015 by the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan.
Since 2015, the Japanese Kyushu Institute of Technology has been carrying out the BIRDS program with the goal of fostering a long-term and sustainable space organization in participating nations.
BIRDS-5 is a constellation of CubeSats developed by Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Japan that will be deployed from the space station.
Specifically, it PEARLAFRICASAT-1, the first satellite developed by Uganda that’s been assembled by three Ugandan space engineers; ZIMSAT-1, Zimbabwe’s first satellite; and TAKA from Japan.
BIRDS-5 performs multispectral observations of earth using a commercial off-the-shelf camera and demonstrates a high-energy electronic measuring instrument.
The statistical data collected could help distinguish bare ground from forest and farmland and possibly indicate the quality of agricultural growth. This could help improve the livelihood of citizens of Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The cross-border university project, BIRDS provides students from developing nations with hands-on satellite development, laying a foundation for similar space technology projects in their home countries that ultimately could lead to sustainable space programs there.
The Ugandan engineers were enrolled at the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech), in Japan where they underwent training in space technology following a collaborative agreement with the Ugandan government in 2019.
Earlier, Uganda’s Dr. Monica Musenero told Uganda Radio Network in an interview early this year, that the satellite which has been under construction was handed to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a U.S. government agency to conduct its launch into space after undergoing all required tests.
She notes that investing in a satellite is crucial at the moment in easing data gathering, especially on weather forecasts, which Uganda has been depending on for information for a long time from other countries.
She notes that effects of climate change such as drought have always taken Uganda by surprise since they lack accurate data.
Ugandan team conducts multispectral camera testing. BIRDS-5 is a constellation of two 1U CubeSats and one 2U CubeSat developed by Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Japan that will be deployed from the space station. Image courtesy of BIRDS-5.
The country is also expected to benefit from the satellite once positioned in the international station for easy monitoring of pests such as desert locust invasion, and monitoring the East African Crude Oil pipeline among others.
Already, the country boasts of an earth satellite center at Mpoma in Kyaggwe, Mukono district which was set up by former President Idi Amin with support from Japan in 1978.
Credit: The Independent.