Mauritius is the latest African country to be able to boast a presence in space. The first Mauritian satellite (a CubeSat – MIR-SAT1) was successfully launched yesterday on board the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
MIR SAT stands for Mauritius Imagery and Radiotelecommunication Satellite. Once the nano-satellite (a term used for any satellite with a mass from 1 kg to 10 kg) is deployed in space and begins orbiting the earth, the ground station at the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC) in Ebène will be able to contact it about four to five times a day.
The data the MRIC receives will help Mauritius with disaster management and prevention. The satellite is also expected to help survey the ocean to improve the management of marine resources and to tackle the depletion of fish stocks. It will also monitor areas where there is frequent flooding.
According to the Space in Africa news and analysis website, the MIR-SAT1 was built by a team of researchers at the MRIC, which advises the government on matters concerning applied research, innovation and research and development issues. There was also help from the country’s Amateur Radio Society and experts from AAC-Clyde Space UK, a company that provides rapidly manufactured spacecraft, services and solutions, designed with quality and innovation in mind, for the small satellite market.
The MRIC has set up a ground station in Ebene, through which it will control and operate the MIR-SAT1. The ground station will also allow the receipt of data and telemetry from other satellites.
While a number of African countries have launched satellites (44 satellites in total) the MIR-SAT1 is only Africa’s second satellite in 2021.