ADDIS ABEBA – Late Tuesday, the maiden flight of the Long March 8 was launched from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site. One of the payloads on the rocket is Ethiopia’s second satellite, ET-SMART-RSS. Other payloads include Apocalypse constellation and Zhixing-1A.
ET-SMART-RSS, initially scheduled for October 2020 was postponed to 20 December. Due to unfavorable weather condition, the satellite was launched on Tuesday.
Built and launched with the help of China, the satellite is a 6U Earth observation nanosatellite with high resolution.
“Preliminary design (of ET-Smart-RSS) was conducted here in Ethiopia and detailed and technical works were underway in collaboration with Chinese experts in China through zooming and other platforms,” said Yishrun Alemayehu, Deputy General Director of Space Institute.
Officials said the major mission of the second satellite is on flood and disaster prediction. It is also expected to collect data from areas in Ethiopia not covered by the first one.
In December 2019, Ethiopia launched its first satellite named ETRSS-1, a 70kg multi-spectral remote sensing satellite from China onboard a Chinese Long March 4B rocket.
The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) developed the satellite in collaboration with 21 Ethiopian technicians, trained on the project as part of the technology-transfer agreement between Beijing and Addis Abeba.
The Chinese government provided 75% of the total cost of the ETRSS-1 satellite, worth about USD 6 million, and helped to launch the satellite.
ET-SMART-RSS marks another worthwhile achievement in Ethiopia’s space ambitions as the East African nation conceives a long term plan of having indigenous capabilities in the development and operation of satellite systems.
The construction of satellite manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing (MAIT) facilities in Addis Ababa is the works following the agreement signed by the Ethiopian government and French space company ArianeGroup with funding from the European Investment Bank.
Ethiopia also plans to launch a third satellite following a contract the government signed with China for the construction of a communication satellite for commercial telecommunications and broadcasting services.
The details of the contract and the satellite development timeline have not been disclosed.
This is the first time an African country will launch a satellite in 2020 and brings the total number of satellites launched by African countries to 42.
Featured Image: China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation (CASC), provided the launch services for five satellites including the Ethiopian ET-SMART-RSS