The team from the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC), winners of the KiboCUBE programme in 2018, run by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), saw their satellite deployed by JAXA from the International Space Station (ISS). MRIC is a parastatal organisation operating under the aegis of the Ministry of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation of the Republic of Mauritius.
The satellite MIR-SAT1 ‘Mauritius Imagery and Radiocommunications Satellite -1’ is the first satellite of Mauritius. The primary objective of the mission is to acquire technology, knowledge and skills for further space endeavours as well as capture images of Mauritius. As a Small Island Developing State, Mauritius is particularly prone to natural disaster risk and set to benefit greatly from their own satellite technology.
MIR-SAT1 is equipped with an X-CAM-C3D camera, which will test the transmission of imagery and on-board communication systems, with the collaboration of amateur radio enthusiasts. Data collected by MIR-SAT1 will be made available for capacity building, experimentation, and research to all institutions in the country. The construction and testing of MIR-SAT1 was fully funded by the Government of Mauritius.
Positive results of this first venture could lead to future development of a bigger nanosatellite for application and research purposes pertinent to the main challenges faced by the country, such as fish depletion and frequent flooding. The mission will also allow Mauritian authorities and universities to get acquainted with the legal and regulatory considerations and responsibilities related to satellite projects. The satellite is also the first step for Mauritius to initiate their own space programme.
MIR-SAT1 is the third cube satellite (Cube Sat) deployed through the KiboCUBE programme, that enables teams from developing countries to develop and deploy their CubeSats from the ISS, following Kenya and Guatemala. Other winners of past rounds of the programme are also working on their satellites.
UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo said: “I am delighted to welcome Mauritius to the community of space-faring nations. With eyes from above, the country will gain powerful data and tools to confront challenges such as rising sea levels and managing ocean resources. UNOOSA and JAXA are proud to have made this achievement possible and stand ready to support the utilization of this CubeSat and the overall development of the space sector in Mauritius.”
JAXA Director General of Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate, SASAKI Hiroshi, said: “It is my pleasure that JAXA successfully deployed the first satellite of Mauritius, MIR-SAT1 from the Kibo module of the ISS, and we are honoured to play a role for Mauritius joining the space-faring community. We would like to extend our respect to UNOOSA and the MRIC for their efforts. MIR-SAT1 has various significant missions including technology demonstration of image acquisition and communication transmission, to which I wish a great success. This deployment will pave the way for the further endeavour by Mauritius’ space activities. Furthermore, all the experiences gained from MIR-SAT1 will lead to the space development in Mauritius. We truly hope to collaborate with Mauritius again in the near future. Congratulations!”
Honourable Deepak Balgobin, Minister of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation said: “This CubeSat opens a new historical chapter in technology development in the Republic of Mauritius. We are hopeful that our first satellite in space will serve as a thrust to STEM education and capacity building in Mauritius. We are investing in the economy of the future which will be powered by data and connectivity but also by the creativity of our youth. New avenues are now open to us and the possibility of space as a new socioeconomic pillar is now more real than ever. This is a momentous achievement and reflects the vision of the Prime Minister, Honourable Pravind Jugnauth, of a knowledge-based economy.”