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Ethiopia takes over operation of Chinese-built satellite

By Zhao Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-14 09:40
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The Ethiopian Remote Sensing Satellite-1, the African nation's first satellite, has been handed over to its Ethiopian operators, according to the China Academy of Space Technology, which designed and built the spacecraft.

A delivery ceremony was held earlier this month in Beijing with participants from both countries, it said in a statement.

Ethiopian Ambassador to China Teshome Toga Chanaka said at the ceremony that thanks to the Chinese government's wholehearted support and the project team's hard work, the Ethiopian people now own their first satellite.

Through the ETRSS-1 project, he said, Ethiopia now has a great deal of remote-sensing images to facilitate the analysis of climate change. A lot of Ethiopian youngsters have started learning about space activities, and some of them have become satellite operations or climate change research professionals after taking training sessions offered by China.

The space endeavor is a symbol of the nations' bilateral strategic partnership, the ambassador said, noting that both will continue strengthening cooperation in the satellite field.

Wu Yanhua, deputy head of the China National Space Administration, said at the event that the two sides' cooperation in the field is part of their joint effort to tackle climate change and that China will continue supporting Ethiopia's pursuit of space capability to help with its socioeconomic development.

ETRSS-1 was sent into space by a Chinese Long March 4B carrier rocket launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Shanxi province in December last year.

Carrying a multispectral widefield imager and some other scientific devices, the 65-kilogram spacecraft is expected to work for at least two years at an altitude of around 600 kilometers to obtain multispectral remote-sensing data on Ethiopian agriculture, water resources, disaster prevention and relief, and climate change research, project managers said.

The costs of the satellite's research, construction and launch were covered by the Chinese government.

The academy said the satellite program's agreement was signed by the two governments in October 2016. It said the program has become a good example of developing countries' cooperation in climate change.

The academy noted that in addition to the satellite and its ground control and application systems, China has also offered training sessions for Ethiopian personnel.

Ethiopian Education Minister Getahun Mekuria, who was minister of innovation and technology at the time the satellite was launched, told China Daily in an earlier interview that data obtained by the satellite would be critical for his country.

"It will be very useful in many regards, like agricultural monitoring, mineral exploration, environmental monitoring and weather forecasting," he said.

He said Ethiopia now wants to cooperate with China in other space fields such as communication satellite systems, navigation and positioning satellite systems and manned space missions.

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