Ethiopia has launched its first-ever satellite into space in a move the country’s space exploration chief hopes marks a new dawn in space technology opportunities in the country.
The Friday, December 20 launch saw a high-powered delegation gather at the Entoto Observatory and Research Centre, not far from Addis Ababa to watch a live stream from a space station in China.
China sponsored about $6 million of the over $7 million project. But the 72-kg multi-spectral satellite was designed by both Chinese and Ethiopian engineers.
The satellite has been christened ETRSS-1, Ethiopia and will use its remote sensing microsatellite to monitor weather patterns resources and to forecast the weather.
Ethiopia hopes the satellite’s operations will help for better agricultural planning as well as warn the country on impending droughts.
The head of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, Solomon Belay, told Reuters he believes the satellite spells new opportunities for the East African powerhouse.
“Space is food, space is job creation, a tool for technology… sovereignty, to reduce poverty, everything for Ethiopian to achieve universal and sustainable development,” Belay reportedly said.
Ethiopia plans to launch 15 satellites between the next 10-15 years.
The African Union has encouraged more African countries to look into the opportunities space technology provides for environmental and economic benefits.