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Zimbabwe Plans to launch the first Nano-Satellite To Boost Agriculture

Harare: Zimbabwe on Monday announced the launch of its first nano-satellite into space in a bid to help collect data for disaster monitoring, boost agriculture and improve mineral mapping.

A rocket carrying a small satellite, called ZIMSAT-1, successfully launched from Virginia in the United States along with Uganda’s first satellite as part of an international project by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

“History unfolds. #ZimSat1 now spatially bound!” government spokesman Nick Mangwana wrote in a tweet. “This is a scientific milestone for the country.”

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) tweeted on Monday that the rocket “will carry experiments on plant mutations and mudflow structure, as well as satellites from Japan, Uganda, and Zimbabwe”.

Zimbabwe’s plans to launch the satellite began in 2018, less than a year after President Emmerson Mnangagwa took office after veteran ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted in a military coup.

He created the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) to support research and innovation in the embattled southern African nation.

The launch of the satellite – barely the size of a shoebox – sparked a huge debate on social media, with some hailing the government’s success while others mocking the effort.

“Launching a satellite when the economy is fragile is stupid. Poverty has increased in the last 5 years. You can’t buy a car when your family is starving,” tweeted @patriot263.

The price of the satellite has not been disclosed.

In late September, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that Zimbabwe’s economic growth would fall to about half of last year’s level due to growing fiscal instability and a decline in agricultural output.

Zimbabwe’s economy has struggled for two decades, forcing many citizens to emigrate to greener pastures.

The government blames economic woes on Western sanctions, but critics blame Harare on mismanagement and corruption.

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