Zimbabwe launches first nanosatellite to boost agriculture


Zimbabwe’s plans to launch the satellite began in 2018.


Zimbabwe on Monday announced the launch of its first nanosatellite into space to help collect data to track disasters, boost agriculture and improve mineral mapping.

A small satellite rocket called ZIMSAT-1 was successfully launched from Virginia in the United States alongside Uganda’s first satellite as part of Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) multi-national project.

“History unfolds.#ZimSat1 now space-bound!” government spokesman Nick Mangwana wrote in a tweet. “This is a scientific milestone for the country.”

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) tweeted Monday that the rocket will “carry experiments on plant mutations and mudflow structure, as well as satellites from Japan, Uganda and Zimbabwe”.

Zimbabwe’s plans to launch the satellite began in 2018, less than a year after President Emmerson Mnangagwa took office following the removal of veteran ruler Robert Mugabe in a military coup.

He founded the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) to promote research and innovation in the troubled South African country.

The satellite’s launch — barely the size of a shoebox — sparked much debate on social media, with some praising the government for the achievement, while others mocking the effort.

“Launching a satellite when the economy is fragile is stupidity. Poverty has increased in the last five years. You can’t buy a car when your family is starving,” tweeted @patriot263.

The cost of the satellite has not been disclosed.

In late September, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast that Zimbabwe’s economic growth would fall to about half last year’s levels due to increasing fiscal instability and a decline in agricultural production.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been struggling for two decades, forcing many citizens to emigrate in search of greener pastures.

The government blames the economic problems on sanctions imposed by the West, but critics blame Harare’s mismanagement and corruption.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)

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