Musk’s SpaceX to launch Botswana’s first-ever satellite

BOTSAT 1 Ground Satelite station at BIUST. PIC MORERI SEJAKGOMO
BOTSAT 1 Ground Satelite station at BIUST. PIC MORERI SEJAKGOMO

PALAPYE: Botswana’s highly anticipated inaugural satellite BotswanaSat-1 (BOTSAT-1) will be launched by billionaire Elon Musk’s company SpaceX. Musk is also the founder of Tesla (manufacturer of electric cars) and most recently acquired Twitter and rebranded it to X. SpaceX, which will launch BOTSAT-1, is the maker of Starship and known for its International Space Station missions.

BOTSAT-1 is designed and assembled by the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST). Government recently revealed that it has spent P8 million in the first phase of the Botswana satellite project with more expected to be pumped in until its completion in January 2027. With many Batswana hoping to see the launch occurring right before them, they will not get that opportunity because the launch will be in Florida, US at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. This week, BIUST Vice Chancellor Professor Otlogetswe Totolo highlighted competency as the main reason for launching SpaceX in Florida. “Upon the completion of BOTSAT-1, which we expect to be around August, we will now take it to SpaceX beyond the red lines because we are very sceptical that we should not take our satellite to any launcher that may just explode it,” Prof Totolo revealed.

Totolo stated that SpaceX has a good track record of satellite launches into space compared to other space companies hence BIUST’s decision. “We are choosing SpaceX because it is the most reliable because these things are so prone to exploding and SpaceX is time tested and there are some places we can take our satellites that are not time tested, plus everyone pays SpaceX,” he remarked. Meanwhile, the project leader of BOTSAT-1 Dr Dimane Mpoeleng, revealed that SpaceX will not only launch the satellite but will also take it through rigorous testing to ensure that it has passed all the red flags. “Our BOTSAT-1 is at 50% completion now and we are currently negotiating with SpaceX on how and when they will launch the satellite but before they do that, they will also laboriously test it and make sure that it does not explode at all,” Mpoeleng said. The project leader revealed that for the services of launching the satellite, the institution will cough out over P1 million to SpaceX. “We will pay around P2 million to SpaceX and this will be from the P33 000 000, which will respectively be put into this project every year until 2027 after the completion of BOTSAT-2,” he revealed.

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Routine child vaccination imperative

The recent Vaccination Day in Motokwe, orchestrated through collaborative efforts between UNICEF, USAID, BRCS, and the Ministry of Health, underscores a commendable stride towards fortifying child health services.The painful reality as reflected by the Ministry of Health's data regarding the decline in routine immunisation coverage since the onset of the pandemic, is a cause for concern.It underscores the urgent need to address the...

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