GhanaSat-1- Marking Africa’s gradual breakthrough in international Space operations, Ghana has launched its first satellite. NASA reports that the CubeSat is now operational.
This makes Ghana the first to send a satellite into orbit around the earth in Sub-Saharan Africa.
A CubeSat is a small-scaled satellite usually used for space research.
The miniature satellite was developed by a team of 3 engineers from All Nations University- Benjamin Bonsu, Ernest Teye Matey, and Joseph Quansah.
GhanaSat-1 was reportedly delivered in the month of June to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a US institution in charge of aeronautics.
It was launched in a SpaceX rocket which took off from pad 39a at Kennedy Space Center.
On Friday, the satellite was then released from the International Space Station.
The project which cost $500,000 took 2 years to be complete. It was supported by Japan’s national space agency, JAXA.
GhanaSat-1 weighs 1 kg and will orbit 400 kilometers above the Earth. It has cameras which will be used to monitor Ghana’s coastlines.
In an interview with TechCrunch, the project manager, Richard Damoah, a Ghanaian professor and assistant research scientist at NASA, said the latest satellite move was for educational purposes.
“This particular satellite has two missions,”
“It has cameras on board for detailed monitoring of the coastlines of Ghana. Then there’s an educational piece – we want to use it to integrate satellite technology into high school curriculum,”
GhanaSat-1 will send a signal to a ground station at All Nations University’s Space Systems and Technology Laboratory.
The successful aeronautic attempt has been commended by the President of the country, Nana Akufuo Addoh.
“Congratulations to the team from All Nations Uni., Koforidua, for the successful launch of Ghana’s 1st satellite, GhanaSat-1, into orbit.”
Damoah noted that the launch of GhanaSat-1 was not government-supported. However with its success, the government intends to be involved.
“After this launch, we now have the support of the president and cabinet support,”
“We are looking to develop a GhanaSat-2, with high resolution cameras, that could monitor things such as illegal mining, water use, and deforestation in the country.”
Richard Damoah is optimistic that this is only the beginning of the good they can do with space exploration. He says the satellites can help in monitoring illegal mining in Ghana.
Being the first of its kind for Ghana, it is worthy to mention that there have been series of space launch attempts and interests across Africa of late.
Elsie Kanza, Head Regional Strategies, Africa, at the World Economic Forum, says that some African countries now have space agencies.
“Several nations, such as South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia have space agencies.”
The Member of the Executive Committe, WEF said Angola has also announced its intention to launch a satellite by 2018.
She says frequent satellite missions will serve as a boost to the African Space Policy and Strategy which was adopted by the AU last year.