Tue. Sep 26th, 2023
Egypt Becomes First African Country with Satellite Assembly, Integration, and Testing Capabilities

Egypt has achieved a significant milestone in the field of satellite technology as it becomes the first African country with the capability to assemble, integrate, and test satellites. This achievement follows the delivery of two prototype satellites for the MisrSat II satellite project, funded by China. The satellite models underwent successful testing, marking the inauguration of Africa and West Asia’s largest satellite assembly, integration, and test center, built with a grant from Beijing. This center not only localizes the satellite industry in Egypt but also positions the country as a leader in technology transfer to Africa.

The flight model of the MisrSat II satellite is scheduled to be delivered at a later date. The advanced technology employed in the satellite will enhance Egypt’s capacities in satellite research, particularly in remote sensing applications. This achievement has been recognized by the Chinese Ambassador to Egypt, highlighting the milestone in space cooperation between the two countries and further promoting the development of space technology in Africa.

The cooperation between Egypt and China in the space sector began in January 2019 when they signed a $72 million grant for Egypt’s space program. Egyptian and Chinese engineers will collaborate on the operation of the satellite, including its ground control station and application system. The MisrSat II satellite is set to be launched from China in October and is designed to have a lifespan of five years.

The MisrSat II satellite possesses high-resolution capabilities of up to 2 meters, which will play a significant role in supporting Egypt Vision 2030 for sustainable development. It will contribute to various applications such as accurately identifying crop types, exploring mineral resources, facilitating urban planning, and monitoring coastal transformations.

China’s investment in satellite technology extends beyond its cooperation with Egypt. China has been constructing new launch sites and has a large number of functioning satellites in orbit, with a significant portion dedicated to military purposes. China’s space sector is witnessing ongoing expansion, with plans for over 70 launches in 2023.

Egypt ranks as the third-largest recipient of US military aid globally and has also become an important collaborator in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The comprehensive partnership between China and Egypt spans various sectors, attracting substantial Chinese investments in Egypt.

The increasing dependence on China for digital infrastructure by countries like Pakistan and Egypt may lead to the incorporation of Chinese satellite internet into their networks. China’s economic influence provides it with the power to dissuade the adoption of US services in these economies.

Moreover, countries including the United States, member states of the European Union, Russia, and Taiwan are also developing their own constellations and satellite-broadband networks. In the midst of these developments, Egypt recently won the bid to host the African Space Agency, further attracting China’s interest in the country for space-related activities.

China is reportedly planning to develop a vast satellite network in near-Earth orbit, aiming to provide global internet services and compete with Elon Musk’s Starlink project. The project, known as “Guo Wang,” involves over 12,000 satellites owned by China Satellite Network Group Co. The launch schedule for this ambitious project is currently unknown.