The year 2021 marks a huge step forward in terms of space exploration for the island of Mauritius. In few days, on June 3rd 2021, at 17:29 UTC* (21:29 time in Mauritius GMT+4), the first Mauritian satellite (a CubeSat – MIR-SAT1) will be launched onboard
the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (Mission: CRS-22/SpX-22) from the Kennedy Space Center
Launch date, time, and viewing opportunities are subject to change. Launches can be affected by technical and mechanical issues and range operations and weather, either in advance or at the last minute.
The flight is the 22nd mission by SpaceX conducted under a Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. The Dragon cargo spacecraft will deliver supplies, science investigations, and an array of small satellites for deployment from the International Space Station (ISS). These small satellites, CubeSats (also known as ‘Nanosatellites’) are a class of research spacecraft, can be 1U, 2U, 3U, or 6U in size, around 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm and typically weigh less than 1.33 kg per U.
The United Nations/Japan Cooperation Programme on CubeSat Deployment from the International Space Station (ISS) Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo) “KiboCUBE” | Image Credit: UNOOSA/JAXA Partnership.
In 2018, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) selected the Republic of Mauritius for the third round of the UNOOSA-JAXA KiboCUBE programme. Through this partnership, Mauritius will be able to launch their first Mauritian satellite 1-Unit Cube Satellite (nanosatellite) to the International Space Station (ISS) and then deployment in space from the Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo) of the International Space Station.
The main mission and objectives of the MIR-SAT1 are to enable “Technology and knowledge transfer through the design, building, testing and operating satellite in space.” This will help promote small satellite technology in Mauritius and contribute to socio-economic benefits.