Rwanda to Launch Satellite Constellation at the End of 2023

Rwandan Minister of ICT and Innovations, Paula Ingabire has disclosed that it will be conducting a beta launch for the Cinnamon-217 and Cinnamon-937 satellite constellation. In October 2021, Rwanda Space Agency filed a request to acquire these satellites, but the Minister noted that the number had increased to seven satellites. According to her, the full satellite launch should be by the end of 2023.

She made this disclosure while noting how Rwanda was developing its space capabilities. The minister noted that Rwanda is in talks with a host of nations to help develop its space capabilities in possible deals that will potentially add impetus to the country’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) ambitions. The country’s space ambitions have attracted interest from countries such as Japan, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates, the Minister of ICT and Innovations told The New Times.

The proposed mid to long-term partnerships with these countries, she said, range from the use of geospatial data to the design and manufacturing of satellites. For example, Rwanda and Israel signed an agreement in 2020, effectively laying the grounds for pursuing this cooperation. And in 2019, Rwanda and Japan teamed up to build the first cube satellite (RwaSat-1), which was launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre and deployed to the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) from International Space Station

Under the partnership with Japan, Ingabire disclosed that 20 Rwandans are currently undergoing training in designing and producing minisatellites. “The very immediate focus is how we build our capacity; engineering capacity, analytics, using satellite data and imagery to help us with any analytics we are doing, whether it’s for agricultural productivity, healthcare delivery, disaster management, mining, and so on,” she stated. She also added that the funding from the Government of Rwanda backed the partnerships.

Rwanda recently approved the law establishing its space agency as the Chamber of Deputies voted. The Chamber of Deputies is the lower house of Rwanda’s national legislature. It said: “[The] establishment of Rwanda Space Agency aims at having coordination of Rwanda’s space sector activities geared towards securing communication, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) as well as purchasing and playing a custodian role of national spatial data and imagery.