Zimbabwe's Zimsat-1 and Uganda's PearlAfricaSat-1 nano-satellites are set to be launched into orbit on November 6 from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Commercial Space Launch Facility in Virginia. The two pieces of equipment will fly aboard the Northrop Grumman NG-18 Cygnus to the International Space Station (ISS) and then orbit the Earth.
The launch of the first satellites in Zimbabwe and Uganda is part of the BIRDS-5 joint global project with multi-national participation. It is a constellation of two CubeSats 1U (Zimsat-1 and PearlAfricaSat-1) and CubeSat 2U (TAKA), developed by Japan, which will also be launched into space with African equipment. The BIRDS program, launched in 2015 and led by the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech), has already seen the participation of fourteen countries.
BIRDS also gives students from developing countries an introduction to satellite development, laying the groundwork for similar space technology projects in their home countries that could lead to sustainable space programs. The mission of BIRDS-5 is to make multispectral observations of the Earth using a commercial camera equipped with a filter and to demonstrate in orbit a high-energy electronic measurement instrument that can be mounted on a CubeSat.