President Mnangagwa yesterday hailed the launch of the country’s first space satellite, ZimSat-1 as a proud moment symbolising a nation on a technology-driven trajectory to achieve its developmental aspirations.
ZimSat-1, made by Zimbabwean scientists with the assistance of their Japanese counterparts under the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite (BIRDS) Project, left earth on Monday aboard a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) rocket.
“This is a proud moment for our great country. It symbolises a nation charting a new path and soaring into a new era of renewal,” tweeted President Mnangagwa.
While cynics, mostly opposition activists, continue demeaning Zimbabwe’s entry into the space age with the launch of ZimSat-1, the Government is already looking to the future in anticipation of sending a second satellite into orbit.
The launch was met with wide acclaim by progressive Zimbabweans, while some mocked the effort.
But, an undeterred Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube who announced plans for the satellite in the 2019 National Budget, again to mockery from the same crowd, said Zimbabwe would forge ahead with its space programme.
“Zimbabwe space satellite, ZIMSAT 1, was launched into space today (Monday) by NASA. I announced it in the National Budget statement 3 years ago, and it is now reality,” he tweeted.
“Looking forward to the development and launching of ZIMSAT 2 in the future.”
The satellite launch is part of Government efforts to engage more in research and development as the country aims for upper-middle-income economy status by 2030.
“Research and development are critical for Zimbabwe’s social-economic transformation and competitiveness, as the country strives to attain Vision 2030.
“Research and Development Programmes will be supported by both Government and private sectors as the country seeks to innovate in developing new services or products, and also advance the value addition strategy,” read part of Ncube’s 2019 National Budget.
The satellite is a culmination of the 2018 launch of the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA), which operates under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.
It will, among other things, enhance mineral exploration and monitoring of environmental hazards and droughts.
Additionally, it will aid in mapping human settlements and disease outbreaks, among other capabilities.
NASA believes the satellite would greatly aid Zimbabwe’s quest to improve the livelihoods of its people.
After reaching the international space station, ZimSat-1 will be launched into orbit later this month. – New Ziana.