Harare (New Ziana) – In an historic moment, marking Zimbabwe’s giant leap into the world of space technologies, the Southern African country’s first ever satellite, ZimSat-1, was launched into space on Monday.
Destined for the International space station, the satellite was launched along with Uganda’s first satellite and at least 4 tons of supplies aboard a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) rocket, the Northcop Grumman CRS-18.
ZimSat-1 was made by a team of Zimbabwean scientists with the assistance of their Japanese counterparts under the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite (BIRDS) Project which the government of Japan uses to train scientists from non-space countries.
The satellite, a culmination of the 2018 launch of the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA), will enhance mineral exploration and monitoring of environmental hazards and droughts.
Additionally, it will aid in mapping human settlements and disease outbreaks, among other capabilities.
NASA believes the satellite would greatly aid Zimbabwe’s quest to improve the livelihoods of its people.
“BIRDS-5 helps address the space needs for the participating nations by acquiring statistical data that can be used to improve the livelihood of the citizens of Uganda and Zimbabwe,” said NASA.
Commenting on their social media platforms, members of the Zimbabwean team that built the country’s first satellite, said they felt proud of their achievement.
Ramson Munyaradzi said; “l am very grateful that l participated in building the first satellite of Zimbabwe ZIMSAT-1, under the BIRDS5 project at Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan. The project was intense but very interesting, implementing all the satellite development phases from mission definitions, design, developing, testing and operations.”
“I am super excited that it is a job well done. I am happy, my family, friends and everyone who supported me are happy. Our Zim team was very amazing comprising of Victor Mukungunugwa (Project Manager) and Timothy Kuhamba. Thank you ZINGSA and Zimbabwe for giving me such an opportunity. The best is yet to come,” he wrote on Facebook.
Kuhamba, who had posted on Facebook way back in August 2014 about his dream of one day building a satellite for Zimbabwe was equally ecstatic.
In his post back then, Kuhamba said his dream was inspired by a team of local doctors that had, for the first time, separated Siamese twins at a local hospital.
“Who said dreams do not come true? Thank you, Government of Zimbabwe and Kyushu Insitute of Technology BIRDS 5 team members for making this dream come true. ZIMSAT-1 to the world.”
In a post a few days before the launch, Mukungunugwa said: “One day I asked my father, why did you name me Victor? He said because everything you do you shall WIN (Victor). So far, I have been winning. Thank you, dad. For Victory.”
After reaching the international space station, ZimSat-1 will be launched into obit later this month.