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Ethiopia Launches First Satellite Into Space

Ethiopia has launched its first satellite into space to monitor climate change and improve research in agriculture and drought preparedness.

The satellite, named ETRSS-1, was launched from China on Friday.

The Ethiopian Remote Sensing Satellite-1, or ETRSS-1, was sent into space by a Long March 4B carrier rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in North China’s Shanxi province.

Carrying a multispectral wide-field imager and some other scientific devices, the 65-kilogram spacecraft is expected to work at least two years at an altitude of around 600 kilometers to obtain multispectral remote-sensing data for Ethiopia’s agriculture, water resource survey, disaster prevention and relief, and climate change research, according to the China National Space Administration.

The costs for the satellite’s research, construction and launch were covered by the Chinese government, the administration said.

Government officials led by Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn witnessed the launch from the Entoto Space Observatory in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia plans to launch a broadcast satellite into space in the next three years.

According to the China Academy of Space Technology, which designed and made the ETRSS-1, the satellite program’s agreement was signed by the two governments in October 2016. It said the program has become a good example of developing countries’ cooperation in climate change and will help to boost the economic development and space technology in Ethiopia.

The academy noted that in addition to the satellite and its ground control and application systems, the Chinese side has also offered training sessions for Ethiopian personnel.

Cui Yufu, the chief designer of ETRSS-1, said that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has confirmed to him that the African nation will continue working with China in the development of new satellites. He said that his team will help Ethiopian researchers build satellites on their own in the future.


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