The first ever Mauritian smallsat — MIR-SAT1 — has docked at the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the SpaceX CRS22 Dragon mission on Saturday, June 5, 2021.
The spacecraft traveled for 26 hours before reaching the ISS after the takeof from from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Thursday, June 3, at 17:29 UTC (21:29 Mauritian time – GMT+4). The Mauritian smallsat will be sent into LEO from ISS no later than June 22.
The MRIC has established a ground station at its premises in Ebène to receive data from MIR-SAT 1. The data will be used for various purposes, including maritime surveillance of Mauritius’ vast, exclusive, economic zone, climate change adaptation, weather forecasting and road traffic management.
This is a historic move for Mauritius, which has plans to engage in space and satellite technology as part of the country’s national development agenda. The Minister of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr. Deepak Balgobin, and other dignitaries, watched the SpaceX-CRS22 Cargo Dragon rocket take off from the Government House in Port Louis. Among those present were members of the Board of Directors of the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC), the Government agency that is operating the smallsat project in Mauritius.
Minister Deepak Balgobin stated that, “After two years of hard work, the nanosatellite has now reached the ISS. This springboard to space opens up new opportunities and initiatives for our country through space and satellite technology and gives new impetus to our socio-economic development. Mauritius made a first big step into space science and technology. This is a momentous achievement and reflects the vision of the Prime Minister, Pravind Jugnauth, of a knowledge-based economy. Even if the satellite is small in size, just like our island, today’s launch indicates that the giant leap has been successful and poses Mauritius high in the sky.”
A team of scientists from the MRIC, an agency that operates under the aegis of the Ministry of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation, has developed the smallsat and the related facilities with the technical support from the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).