GIS – 26 September, 2019: A training programme on the setting up of a Mini-Ground Station for Secondary Schools for the reception of satellite telemetry was launched, this morning, at the Professor Hassan Raffa State Secondary School (PHRSSS) in the context of the First Mauritian Satellite project. The Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research, Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, and the Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Yogida Sawmynaden, were present.
The event is an initiative of the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC), which has as mandate to promote scientific research, technology and innovation in the Republic of Mauritius. In line with this aim, a team led by the MRIC submitted a proposal, entitled the MIR-SAT1, under the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) KiboCUBE Programme 2018, for the design and building of the first Mauritius Nanosatellite.
Consequently, Mauritius has been offered the opportunity, for the first time in its history, to build and deploy a Mauritian Satellite from the International Space Station (ISS) Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo) "KiboCUBE".
In her address at the launch of the training programme, Minster Dookun-Luchoomun said that the PHRSSS is the first school in Mauritius to have built their first ever satellite data receiving antenna from easily sourced material. In fact, a first pilot training on the antenna with five students and one teacher from Professor Hassan Raffa SSS was initiated and successfully completed from April to May 2019. On that score, she congratulated the students and the entire team of PHRSSS for having embarked on the project.
Speaking about the programme, the Minister underlined, that it aims at building capacity and encouraging the younger generation to take an interest in emerging technologies such as Space/Satellite technology, Big data analytics, Machine learning and AI, and eventually gear their career in these fields.
For his part, Minister Sawmynaden said that the First Mauritian Satellite project will enable the country to gain the knowledge and skills of the full satellite development process as well as the technology in the form of a CubeSat in space, ground station equipment and a Missions Lab. This space project, he pointed out, can serve as a model for other Small Island Developing States. The satellite, he indicated, will be completed by end of this year. The expected deployment into space is scheduled for around mid of year 2020 which will be done by JAXA via the KIBO arm of the International Space Station, he added.
According to the Minister, the socio-economic benefits of a space sector to the country are significant. The MIR-Sat 1 initiative, he added, envisages to inspire the younger generation to look into the numerous advantages of engaging into space technology namely job creation, research, development and innovation, thus contributing to the advancement of the country. He also highlighted that a website for the First Mauritian Satellite Project, SpaceMauritius.com, has been launched whereby the data collected from the satellite will be made freely available to the public.
The Training Programme
The MRIC’s training programme targets youth aged 15 to 25 years in Mauritius and Rodrigues. It will focus on the building of an Antenna for Satellite Communication and the setting up of a simplified ground station for reception of satellite telemetry and other satellite data.
A simplified ground station is currently in operation at the PHRSSS. A second pilot training is being conducted at the Forest Side Girls SSS. A series of training programmes on satellite ground station building for secondary schools will start during the school holidays of November/December 2019.
The MIR-SAT1 is a 1U CubeSat of size 10cm3 with a maximum weight of 1.33 kg. The MIR-SAT1 will be deployed in space through the KiboArm of the ISS and will be orbiting at around 410 km above the earth surface. A space graded RGB imager onboard the MIR-SAT1 will provide photos of the earth which will be taken as and when the MIR-SAT1 passes over Mauritius. The satellite will also have the ability for island-to-island communication.
At the said altitude, the MIR-SAT1 is expected to be in orbit between one to two years, depending on solar activities. During this time the MRIC team will operate the satellite and acquire imagery from the onboard imager.
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