Ghana launches miniature satellite to signal its space ambitions

Students prepare the balloon that will be used to conduct a test launch of a Coke-can sized satellite, left

Students prepare the balloon that will be used to conduct a test launch of a Coke-can sized satellite, left

Ghana will launch its first satellite as part of its new space programme today, as college students send a tiny model satellite the size of a coke can 200 yards into the air.

The “Deployable CanSat”, which will collect photographic images and other information from its flight, will be carried skyward by nothing more hi-tech than a large balloon, but organisers hope that it will generate enthusiasm for Ghana’s long term space ambitions.

“We hope that this practical demonstration of what can be done by students like them will generate more enthusiasm, fire up their imagination to come up with more creative things, and show that it’s possible that they’ll one day be able to launch their own real satellite into orbit,” said Prosper Kofi Ashilevi, director of Ghana’s Space Science and Technology Centre.

Ghana, which launched its space programme in 2012, is an extraterrestrial upstart, even by African standards. Nigeria holds a clear lead in the continent’s space-race, having funded and overseen the construction of a number of satellites in the last few years. Nigeria’s space ambitions have focused on commercial satellites, offering telecommunications and satellite industry.

However, Nigeria’s efforts have mostly been outsourced. NigeriaSat2, a telecoms satellite, was built by Nigerian scientists in the UK, at Surrey Satellite Technology, and launched by the Russian space programme. Although Apartheid-era South Africa planned an African launch site, the South African Space Programme, reopened in 2009, launched its last satellite in Kazakhstan.

Experts believe Ghana is at least five years from developing a functioning satellite, but this project shows a determination to build a space program with local expertise, and to help grow the country’s hi-tech industry in the process.


Categories: News
Tags: Ghana

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