Uganda’s PearlAfricaSat-1 deployed in Space

By STI Communications Team

Uganda’s PearlAfricaSat-1 deployed and begins Operation in Orbit: What does it say of the Power of Ideas, Resilience, Leadership, and Strategic Alliances between Nations?

You have probably heard some people caution others, “Be careful what you say for your word is as powerful and moves as fast as a bullet.” True, but even stronger is the idea from which such word is expressed. Word is an expressed idea. For believers, the universe, in all its magnificence, was, but powerfully spoken into being: “Let there be… and it was! What this simply implies is that for every word that was spoken for reality to be as we experience it, there was a powerful idea of how exactly that reality would manifest. We know, even in contemporary times, that things are created twice: first, in mind; then, physically or in any manner it can be sensually perceived, including the sound of music. An idea strategically and resiliently worked on with discipline and organization, yields incredible results. That is the essence of Science, Technology and Innovation. And such was the case for PearlAfricaSat-1!

PearlAfricaSat-1 getting ready to orbit the space (image from The PearlAfricaSat-1 via Bonny Omara on Twitter)

But, how, exactly, did the whole process unfold? It was visionary leadership at play. What began only as a Leadership idea in October 2019 when HE President Yoweri Museveni directed the then Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation to put in place a National Space Agency and Institute, gave birth to the Space Technology Agency. The agency aims to advance the inclusive use of space science tools and services for socio-economic development. Subsequently, a collaborative research agreement was signed between Uganda and the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) of Japan to enrol and upskill three graduate engineers to design, build, test, and launch the first satellite for Uganda.

In April 2020, Uganda took a significant step towards creating an indigenous space program by sending three engineers: Edgar Mujuni, Derick Tebusweke, and Bonny Omara, to obtain training in satellite design, build, test, launch, and operation as part of the multinational programme BIRDS-5 project, led by Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan.

PearlAfricaSat-1 Engineers during the launch at Kyutech

The quest was successful and Uganda’s first-ever satellite, PearlAfricaSat-1, is the result. It was launched into international space by NASA in Virginia, USA, on November 7, 2022. It was later deployed into orbit to begin operation on December 2, 2022.

On May 10, 2022, the satellite built by our engineers, named PearlAfricaSat-1, was handed over to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for final testing. The satellite successfully completed all tests and was subsequently handed over to the United States of America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for launch and deployment. The launch to the International Space Station will take place on Sunday, 6th November, 20222 at 12pm EAT. The satellite will subsequently be deployed into low earth orbit in December 2022. Uganda is also setting up an Earth Station at Mpoma, Mukono for command, control, and management of our satellite here in Uganda, by Ugandans.

The full-length of the story in the preceding two paragraphs is now widely told and it might not be prudent to repeat it here except, of course, for critical aspects. For instance, further to the Satellite’s now known benefits relating to providing research and observation data and related solutions in: weather forecast; land; water bodies and mineral mapping; agriculture monitoring; disaster prevention, infrastructure planning; and border security, already relayed in various media, we would like, as partly aforesaid, to underscore the power and significance of ideas, resilience, leadership, and strategic alliances between nations, if well nurtured and/or sought.

The PearlAfricaSat-1 story is testament to Uganda’s openness and commitment to cordial and strategic global partnerships especially those of mutual interest in nature. In this bid, the government of Japan, through the Kyushu Institute of Technology; and the USA, through NASA; thankfully just helped Uganda demonstrate that! It is also re-assuring of the infinite opportunities, especially young people ~ who are the majority in Uganda, have, further to space exploration, if they strategically tap into their magnanimous potential, shunning cynicism and other distractions from people and social movements with ulterior destructive motives.

Equally significant is that for PearlAfricaSat-1, Uganda command centre has been set up at the Mpoma Earth Observatory Centre which has been revitalized for command and control, set up in 1978 under similar collaboration. Congratulations Uganda: The President of Republic of Uganda; Minister and colleagues at the STI Secretariat, Office of The President. Our sincere respect for the three Ugandan Engineers. Viva Uganda. Aluta continua.

Read the statement on the Launch by Hon. Minister Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza here

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