The Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute has announced on its Facebook page that it has launched the ET-Smart-RSS satellite.
Last year, Ethiopia launched its first land observation satellite, ETRSS-1, in December 2012. The maiden flight of the Long March 8 was launched from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site. One of the payloads on the rocket is Ethiopia’s second satellite, ET-SMART-RSS. Other payloads include Apocalypse constellation and Zhixing-1A.
ET-SMART-RSS, initially scheduled for October 2020 was postponed to 20 December. Due to unfavorable weather condition, the satellite was launched today. Built and launched with the help of China, the satellite is a 6U Earth observation nano satellite with high resolution. The primary mission of the satellite program is to expose Ethiopian engineers and scientists to hands-on experience and demonstrate the Institute’s capability in integrating nano-satellite subsystems locally.
The satellite, which was launched last year under the name ETRSS-1, is said to play a key role in the development of the country. The satellite, which started transmitting data, is working to control climate change, conduct agricultural research, and perform a wide range of other infrastructure projects.
According to the Deputy Director General of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, ET-Smart-RSS is a land surveillance operation but its image quality is much better than ETRSS-1. ET-Smart-RSS is a nano satellite and has the latest technology. He said the two satellites combined can provide better ground observation services, adding that the institute will receive the combined images of the two. He also said that many satellites now cover a wide area and that many images can be obtained in a short period of time.
In December 2019, Ethiopia launched its first satellite named ETRSS-1, a 70kg multi-spectral remote sensing satellite from China onboard a Chinese Long March 4B rocket. The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) developed the satellite in collaboration with 21 Ethiopian technicians, trained on the project as part of the technology-transfer agreement between Beijing and Addis Ababa. The Chinese government provided 75% of the total cost of the ETRSS-1 satellite, worth about USD 6 million, and helped to launch the satellite.
ET-SMART-RSS marks another worthwhile achievement in Ethiopia’s space ambitions as the East African nation conceives a long-term plan of having indigenous capabilities in the development and operation of satellite systems. The construction of satellite manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing (MAIT) facilities in Addis Ababa is the works following the agreement signed by the Ethiopian government and French space company Ariane Group with funding from the European Investment Bank.
Ethiopia also plans to launch a third satellite following a contract the government signed with China for the construction of a communication satellite for commercial telecommunications and broadcasting services. The details of the contract and the satellite development timeline have not been disclosed.