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Uganda: Debut Satellite Launched

FILE - In this handout photo released by Roscosmos Space Agency Press Service, a view of the International Space Station taken on March 30, 2022 by crew of Russian Soyuz MS-19 space ship after undocking from the Station. (Roscosmos Space Agency Press Service via AP)

Uganda's first satellite has been successfully launched into orbit from the International Space Station (ISS) with its ground controllers in contact with the device, the government said on Friday.

The East African nation's PearlAfricaSat-1 spacecraft was rocketed to the ISS by NASA on Nov. 7, alongside Zimbabwe's ZimSat-1.

Officials say it will help Uganda monitor weather and disasters, map its mineral wealth and generate other crucial data.

"Today, Friday Dec 2, 2022 at 1045 EAT Uganda's first satellite PearlAfricaSat-1 was deployed into orbit from the International Space Station," Monica Musenero Musanza, minister for science, technology and innovation said in a statement.

Uganda's ground station located in Mukono district, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) east of the capital Kampala, has been "in communication with our satellite," she said.

President Yoweri Museveni has said he wanted to improve the country's technological capacity to cope with challenges in sectors such as agriculture, security and natural resource management.

Critics say the satellite program is a vanity project for a country still grappling with problems like poor transport and health infrastructure.

The satellite was developed by three Uganda engineers in Japan with technical assistance from Japan's Kyushu Institute of Technology.