(ORDO NEWS) — Zimbabwe on Monday announced the launch of its first nanosatellite into space, which will collect data to monitor natural disasters, develop agriculture and improve mineral mapping.
A rocket carrying a tiny satellite, dubbed ZIMSAT-1, successfully lifted off from Virginia along with Uganda’s first satellite as part of a multinational project by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
“The story unfolds. #ZimSat1 is now in space!” government spokesman Nick Mangwana said on social media. “This is a scientific milestone for the country.”
Zimbabwe’s plans to launch a satellite came to light in 2018, less than a year after President Emmerson Mnangagwa took office, deposing ruler Robert Mugabe in a military coup.
Mnangagwa created the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) to promote research and innovation in the war-torn South African nation.
The launch of the satellite caused a lot of controversy on social media, with some applauding the government for this achievement, while others ridiculed its efforts.
“Launching a satellite when the economy is fragile is stupid. Poverty has increased over the past 5 years. You can’t buy a car when your family is starving,” commentators shared.
The cost of the satellite was not disclosed.
At the end of September, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that Zimbabwe’s economic growth would shrink to about half of last year’s level due to growing financial instability and falling agricultural production.
The Zimbabwean economy has been struggling for the past two decades, forcing many citizens to relocate.
The government blames Western-imposed sanctions, but critics accuse the leadership of mismanagement and corruption.
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