THE NEW TIMES
Rwanda announced plans to launch two satellite constellations in the next three years. The move further highlighted the country’s goal to become a leader in Africa’s space industry.
The Rwanda Space Agency said that it filed a request to acquire two satellite constellations from the International Telecommunication Union. The two-craft fleet has a total of 327,320 satellites.
A satellite constellation is a group of satellites working together as a system. Unlike a single satellite, a constellation can provide permanent global or near global coverage.
The two constellations will join RwaSat-1, a satellite built by three Rwandan engineers and a team of Japanese scientists at Tokyo University. It was launched in 2019 from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center and deployed to low Earth orbit from the International Space Station. That same year, Rwanda launched the satellite Icyerekezo in partnership with OneWeb, a United Kingdom company. The satellite was used to provide internet access to rural schools.
The move for expansion comes at a time when the development of the Rwandan space sector still is in its early stages, with a total of five to 10 partnerships, according to the agency.
“It shows that Rwanda is ready to use space services for the sociodevelopment of the country,” said Francis Ngabo, the space agency’s chief executive. “And, secondly, it’s a signal that we are sending to the business sector or the space sector that we are ready for investment in the space sector, space communication and space services in general.”