Ethiopia plans to launch a second satellite in October 2020 with the help of China.
The satellite is being developed by engineers at the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI). The primary purpose of this satellite program is to expose Ethiopian engineers and scientists to hands-on experience and demonstrate ESSTI’s capability in integrating nanosatellite subsystems locally.
China is providing technical and financial support for this program and will help launch the nanosatellite into low Earth orbit.
This is not the first time Ethiopia and China have worked together on a space satellite project. In December 2019, Ethiopia launched its first satellite onboard a Chinese Long March 4B rocket. The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) developed the satellite along with 21 Ethiopian technicians. The technicians were trained under the technology-transfer agreement between China and Ethiopia. The Chinese government paid 75% of the total cost, which was approximately $6 million.
That first satellite is being used to gather data on water, agriculture, climate change, and the environment. It has two goals. First, build technology application capacity and skills of Ethiopian engineers from collaboration with different countries’ space scientists and institutions. This will enable Ethiopian scientists to design, build, and launch the second satellite independently. Second, to save the country money from buying data and information it could independently collect for its own development agenda.
Ethiopia is collaborating with universities and observatory centers from around the world, including South Africa, Chile, South Korea, Russia, Spain, Italy, France, United Kingdom, and the United States.