Ethiopia is completing their planning for the launch of the nation’s second satellite into orbit next month, just eight months after the launch of the country’s ETRSS-1 satellite last December.
The country’s space ambitions, backed by China’s funds and satellite launch sites, has seen Ethiopian engineers design the satellites in an initiative co-funded by both countries. The ET-SMART-RSS Earth Observation (EO) smallsat is scheduled to take off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site, in Wenchang, Hainan province.
Ethiopia’s ETRSS-1 satellite, which is manned by a team of engineers at the Entoto Observatory and Research Center on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa, analyzes weather patterns to extract data and enhance the country’s preparedness in the case of drought.
The country’s collaboration on space projects with China was signed into agreement in 2016, by Ethiopia’s then minister of Science and Technology, the current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Ethiopia’s ETRSS-1 satellite launch sent the African continent’s 41st satellite into orbit. Months earlier, Sudan’s successful debut launch made headlines, as had Rwanda’s in February of 2019. Egypt leads Africa with nine successful satellite launches since 1998, four of them coming last year.
The country’s second remote sensing satellite will weigh 8.9 kilograms and be of improved resolution — costs amounting to $1.5 million are being covered by the ESSTI’s partner on the project, the Beijing Smart Satellite Space Technology.
According to ESSTI’s Director General, Dr. Solomon Belay, Ethiopia is aiming to reach 10 satellites launched by the end of the decade.