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People applaud successful launch of first balloon satellite |29 April 2022

Article source: Seychelles Nation Newspaper

The successful launch early yesterday morning of the first balloon satellite ‒ ‘Mission Payanke’ ‒ flying the national flag high, has been applauded as a great achievement for Seychelles and its young people.

The launch that took place at Stad Popiler was done by Vice President Ahmed Afif. Also present to witness the historical and milestone event were Minister of Lands and Housing, Billy Rangasamy; Indian High Commissioner to Seychelles, General Dalbir Singh Suhag; Dr Srimathy Kesan from Space Kidz India; representatives from the Seychelles Defence Forces, the police, Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), Seychelles Maritime Safety Authority, Seychelles Bureau of Standards as well as members of the public.

People living around Victoria and those who were in the town area around 8.30am as well as those at home did not miss the moment of seeing the balloon fly high as the event was also broadcast live on SBC1 and Radyo Sesel.

The balloon satellite ‒ ‘Mission Payanke’ ‒ consists of a balloon, a recovery parachute and a pay load. It contains electronic equipment such as radio transmitters, sensors, a 360 degree camera and GPS receivers among other satellite navigation systems widely used for research purposes, collection of data and imagery from near space.

The satellite ……will collect data (greenhouse gases) in our ‘near space’ and atmosphere for analysis.

It is the first such mission to explore the atmosphere launched by students in Seychelles and on the African continent.

The mission is the work of 30 students from various secondary schools who went through an eight-day training workshop in balloon satellite organised by the division of science, technology and innovation in partnership with Space Kidz India and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

The objective of the programme was to educate the students on the emerging technologies, known as the frontier technologies in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The students were introduced to space and space exploration, nano satellites, high altitude balloons, basic electronics, microcontrollers, sensors, building experiments with students’ kit and building the payload, demonstrating and testing the payload.

It was anticipated that the ‘Mission Payanke’ would take some three hours to climb the 70,000 to 100,000 feet to record data and images at different levels of the atmosphere and some extra two hours for the payload to parachute down to earth after the explosion. But apparently according to organisers, due to the excellent weather condition, the balloon satellite took less time to reach the expected height and instead of falling into the sea to be retrieved by the Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG), it fell into the mountains of Bel Ombre overlooking the fishing port.

The recovery team used several techniques such as GPS tracking and drones to locate the satellite payload and they retrieved it at 1.28pm after it had landed at 10.23am. The movement of the balloon satellite was earlier being monitored into the atmosphere and back to earth by a transmitter tracking station that was mounted on top of Independence House Annex building.

Apart from Seychelles Coast Guard, the SCAA for the flight movement, the Seychelles Meteorological Authority (SMA) for weather condition and SBS for supplying helium gas, different ministries were collaborative partners in the launch of the balloon satellite.

After the launch, Vice President Afif said “it shows how the youths today are interested to learn about space technology and what goes on in space. I think this is another frontier where our youths can venture to help the country in its development and we will provide them full support.”

For his part Xavier Estico, director general for science, technology and innovation said the project marks the first step in building local capacity to find our niche in this ever-growing space industry and he thanked Unesco and Space Kidz India for their collaboration on this journey into the future.

“We have already started a number of initiatives in this direction since 2018 with the collaboration of the Italian Space Agency (ASI). We are already in discussion with Space Kidz of India and the Indian government on how we shall continue to collaborate in the future in space science and satellite technologies for the good of our nation and region,” said Mr Estico who noted that we however need to develop a sound policy and strategy that will allow us to find our niche in the booming space industry as part of our economic diversification strategy.

It was Dr Kesan who briefed the guests about ‘Mission Payanke’. She said the country is well-placed to conduct missions into space and Space Kidz India will partner with the country to conduct future space launches including the building of rockets.

Most of the students on the project who talked to Seychelles NATION said they were happy and proud that they have been able to accomplish their mission to construct and successfully launch the satellite. They also said that they were eagerly waiting for the analysis of the payload. They added that the training had been very beneficial to them in terms of acquiring knowledge in space science and space technology unknown to them at the beginning.

Colvin Mounac from International School Seychelles (ISS) said “although we had a very intense week I feel relieved and proud not just for myself but for my teammates that our mission is actually working. This proves that we can also make a difference in the country”.

Mercy Chilinda from Persévérance secondary school said” it was absolutely amazing. I cried. I am happy it worked the way it was planned. Now we are just waiting to get our things back for us to examine them.”  

During the ceremony, VP Afif presented the national flag to Dr Kesan who in turn presented him and all the dignitaries with a memento. The guests also visited the tracking station on the Independence House Annex building. The analysis of the payload from the successful mission, which started yesterday, continues today.

Patrick Joubert



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