The first Mauritian nanosatellite Mauritius Imagery and Radiocommunications Satellite -1 (MIR-SAT1) was launched into low orbit, this afternoon, and will operate at an altitude of 335 to 346 kilometres from Earth.
The Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, followed the event live, today, at the Sir Harilal Vaghjee Hall, Government House in Port Louis. The Minister of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Deepak Balgobin, several Ministers, Members of the National Assembly and representatives of the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC) were present.
Prime Minister Jugnauth highlighted that the deployment of the very first nanosatellite is a momentous event for a Small Island Developing State adding that it marks the culmination of a project launched in 2018. This project, he stated, represents the ushering of a new era in the country, focusing on innovation and knowledge-driven economy and demonstrates that Mauritius is joining the league of space-faring African nations at a particularly opportune time.
The Prime Minister also expressed gratitude to agencies such as the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the JAXA, the AAC-Clyde Space UK for their support to Mauritius in space exploration. He also extended his appreciation to the Mauritian engineers for coming up with this project.
He dwelt on the importance of increasing students' motivation and engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
For his part, Minister Deepak Balgobin pointed out that this first Mauritian nanosatellite into space opens a new historic chapter in technological development for the country. In some three weeks, Mauritius will start receiving images from the satellite, he added.
The nanosatellite project has been designed and executed by a team of scientists from the MRIC. The researchers at the MRIC won the "KiboCUBE Program" organised by the UNOOSA and JAXA in 2018. They were given the opportunity to develop the nanosatellite and the annexed facilities under the technical guidance of those international agencies.
The main objective of the MIR-SAT1 is to acquire technologies, knowledge and skills for other space projects. The nanosatellite which is equipped with an X-CAM-C3D camera will also be responsible for capturing images of Mauritius. The Ground Station which has been set up at the MRIC premises in Ebène will receive data from the nanocraft.
The data will be used for various purposes, including maritime surveillance of Mauritius' vast exclusive economic zone, climate change adaptation, weather forecasting and road traffic management. The construction of MIR-SAT1 was fully funded by the government of Mauritius. Its construction was undertaken by the Scottish company AAC Clyde Space.
The Nanocraft was deployed into orbit from the International Space Station (ISS) where it arrived on Saturday 5 June after it took off 26 hours earlier from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, United-States, aboard SpaceX-CRS22 Cargo Dragon rocket.
The Japanese astronaut, Akihiko Hoshide, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) who is among the crew members aboard the ISS proceeded with the deployment of the Mauritian nanosatellite.