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Ethiopia Is Next Country To Launch Satellite Into Orbit

First Posted: Jan 11, 2017 02:02 AM EST
Launch To The International Space Station
Ethiopia is yet another country with hopes of launching a rocket to space. (Image for representation only.)
(Photo : Manuel Pedoussaut/ESA/Getty Images)

In three to five years, Ethiopia will be part of the list of countries with a civilian satellite orbit launched into space. It is to help better predict weather conditions and for remote sensing activities in the country.

Phys.org reported that this announcement came just after a severe drought left more than 10 million people hungry, leading them to kill several thousands of animals in two years. This puts Ethiopia on the growing list of African countries with space ambitions, although it is not yet clear how much the satellite will cost and whether or not it will have military uses.

AFK Insider noted that the Mekele Institute of Technology in Ethiopia actually launched a rocket called Alpha Meles in November 2015. The said rocket, which launched 30 kilometers in space, cost an estimated US$2.3 million to develop, build and launch.

Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology spokesperson Wondwossen Andualem said that they will likely launch their first satellite from a facility in China. But he added that Ethiopia is currently aiming to be a space science hub: they even have a Space Science Council chaired by the Prime Minister.

In a report by All Africa, Wondwossen Andualem shared that a prototype of the carrier rocket has already been prepared as a launch pad for their actual work. He emphasized that efforts are already underway for the country to launch a medium-sized rocket into space by at least 2020.

Wondwossen Andualem also stated that the building capacity of these rockets have been in part due to the knowledge and technological exchanges with their development partners. However, the government stated that it plans on building satelites and launch rockets locally, with minimal help from foreign partners.

If successful, Ethiopia's manufacture of satellites and carrier rockets on a local scale could allow the country to compete with others in seeking to launch at the equator.

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