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EnduroSat to Build Botsat-1, Botswana's First Satellite

European microsat specialist EnduroSat is set to build Botswana’s first satellite in collaboration with the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST).

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Wed Jul 03 2024Written by Zac Aubert

European microsat specialist EnduroSat is set to build Botswana’s first satellite in collaboration with the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST).

The historic project, Botsat-1, is based on a three-unit (3U) standard cubesat structure and marks a significant milestone for the landlocked country in Southern Africa. Engineers from BIUST are joining EnduroSat’s team in Bulgaria to assist in the development of Botsat-1.

Scheduled for launch no earlier than February 2025 on SpaceX’s Transporter-13 rideshare mission, Botsat-1 will be equipped with a hyperspectral sensor designed to gather ground composition data, thereby supporting Botswana's mining and agriculture sectors.

“The sensor would have a spatial resolution of 32 meters at 500 kilometers altitude and a 32 kilometer swath. By collecting multiple bands of light within the visible and near-infrared (VNIR) portion of the spectrum reflected by the surface of the Earth, the data can help identify materials and provide insights on vegetation, water and air quality.” - EnduroSat Spokesperson

Botswana, renowned as the world’s top producer of diamonds by value according to the U.S. government’s International Trade Association, relies heavily on this sector, which contributes nearly a third of the country’s gross domestic product. However, with a decline in the global market for rough diamonds, Botswana is striving to diversify its economy, and Botsat-1 is a pivotal part of this strategic shift.

The Botswanan government is funding Botsat-1, which EnduroSat highlights as part of a broader initiative to establish a space hub in the country. This effort will be complemented by the Space Engineering & Technology qualification program set to commence in October.

“BIUST has already invested in developing its own equipment, including … ground stations, so synergy on educational programs [is] one of our common priorities within this mission. BOTSAT-1 is the first step towards implementing practice-driven space education to attract and train regional talent.” - EnduroSat Spokesperson

Engineers from BIUST are expected to finalize Botsat-1’s assembly and payload integration in Sofia, Bulgaria's capital. Post-launch, BIUST will manage the satellite’s operations from Botswana using mission operations software developed by EnduroSat.

“This partnership brings us closer to realizing our shared vision and underscores the strength of our mutual commitment to advancing space technology in Botswana.” - Otlogetswe Totolo , BIUST Vice Chancellor

Since deploying its first satellite in 2018, EnduroSat has delivered 60 spacecraft. The Botsat-1 project reflects a growing trend where more affordable and adaptable satellite technologies are enabling a wider range of countries to enter the space sector, which was once dominated by wealthier nations.

Adding to this trend, Senegal's space agency is set to launch its inaugural satellite later this month on SpaceX’s Transporter-11 rideshare mission.

As more countries join the space community, initiatives like Botsat-1 are crucial in fostering global technological advancement and economic diversification.