Zimbabwe announced on Monday, November 7, the sending into space of the first satellite in its history. The small block, no bigger than a shoebox, is used to take pictures of the Earth and collect data. “The story is on its way. #ZimSat1 is in space! », government spokesman Nick Mangwana rejoiced on Twitter, welcoming “an important scientific step for the country”.
A rocket launched at 10:32 GMT from Virginia (United States) a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station (ISS), carrying three CubeSats developed by Zimbabwe, Uganda and Japan, NASA confirmed. “Satellites will take pictures of the Earth to collect data for climate and disaster monitoring”the agency said on Twitter in a post accompanied by a photo of the small tech hubs, each decorated with a national flag.
The images collected will also allow bare soil to be distinguished from forests and agricultural land and can be used “to improve the livelihoods of the citizens of Uganda and Zimbabwe”NASA said in a statement.
A battered economy
Zimbabwe has been working on the project, the cost of which has not been disclosed, since 2018 after President Emmerson Mnangagwa, successor to Robert Mugabe, established the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (Zingsa). In this country plagued by poverty and a battered economy, the announcement of the launch of a satellite has sparked strong reactions on social networks.
“Launching a satellite when the economy is fragile is stupid. Poverty has increased in the last five years. You can’t buy a car when your family is starving.”posted for example Andrew Gocha, a Twitter user who introduces himself as a “political analyst and economist”.
Zimbabwe has been mired in a deep economic crisis for twenty years and continues to be subject to international sanctions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced new downward growth forecasts in September, in particular due to a drop in agricultural production.
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