We are used to Zimbabwean projects missing deadlines. We would have died if we had held our breath for the migration to Digital TV. To this day, that whole project remains in limbo, licences were awarded, and TV stations were launched but we still haven’t quite reached the promised land.
It was starting to appear like our space adventure would remain a dream too. We heard about Zimbabwe’s plans to launch a satellite a few years ago. These plans did not get the ovation that the government expected. Perhaps we are all short-sighted but most of us thought we had too many problems to be thinking about space.
It looked like we would get our wishes when the February 2022 deadline came and went and no satellite was to be seen. We then got word that Covid was the reason for the delay, the satellite, ZimSat-1, would be hitting space in July 2022.
Well, July came and went and still, ZimSat-1 remained grounded. Why? This time around it was because of stormy weather. The new launch date was announced as 28 October 2022. They said ZimSat-1 was scheduled to reach the International Space Station (ISS) in October before its launch into orbit in November.
We are a few days away from that date and there is an update. A National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officer has confirmed that ZimSat-1 is headed for space on the 6th of November,
The 18th Northrop Grumman commercial resupply services mission for NASA to the International Space Station carries out scientific investigations of topics such as plant mutations and mudflow structure along with a demonstration of camera technology and small satellites from Japan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
BIRDS-5 is a constellation of cubesats: Pearl AfricaSat-1, the first satellite developed by Uganda; 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.
Last time when we talked about ZimSat-1, many had questions about what exactly the satellite will be used for. NASA talks about the nanosatellite helping distinguish between forest and farmland. That’s in line with the mapping and mineral exploration we were told that ZimSat-1 would be used for.
Could the off-the-shelf camera fitted to ZimSat-1 be good for other things, like say, security? Hard to say, we don’t much about the fitted camera. However, I think whatever camera is fitted will be used for such ‘security’ purposes, regardless of whether or not it’s suited for the purpose.
We talked extensively about ZimSat-1 before and if you want to know all about the nanosatellite read this: