News / Science & Technology

Ghana’s Home-Grown Space Program Takes Off

Students use a balloon to launch Deployable CanSat, a soda-can sized model of a satellite, All Nations University, Koforidua, Ghana, May 15, 2013.
Students use a balloon to launch Deployable CanSat, a soda-can sized model of a satellite, All Nations University, Koforidua, Ghana, May 15, 2013.
In a small laboratory on the ground floor of a university 80 kilometers north of Accra, students practice counting down for the launch of their model satellite.
 
Later that same afternoon, the so-called CanSat, which is scarcely larger than a can of Coke, climbed nearly 200 meters into the overcast mid-May sky. While successfully launching the miniature device is but a small step toward establishing Ghana's foothold in the heavens, nearby posters of Japanese and American spacecraft on the lab’s lime green walls suggest the true size of the students’ ambitions.
 
Students prepare to launch a soda-can sized satellite, at All Nations University, Koforidua, Ghana, May 15, 2013.Students prepare to launch a soda-can sized satellite, at All Nations University, Koforidua, Ghana, May 15, 2013.
x
Students prepare to launch a soda-can sized satellite, at All Nations University, Koforidua, Ghana, May 15, 2013.
Students prepare to launch a soda-can sized satellite, at All Nations University, Koforidua, Ghana, May 15, 2013.
Their dream of putting large-scale satellites into orbit is shared by Ghana’s government, which launched a national space program just over a year ago. But unlike African countries such as Nigeria that have received foreign help in developing satellites, Ghana is taking a home-grown approach.
 
Officials hope to have an observational satellite in orbit within five years. In order to ensure a strong program over the long term, they need to educate more students with a passion for space.
 
That’s why the head of the national space agency, Dr. Prosper Kofi Ashilevi, attended the launch of the model satellite, held on the campus of All Nations University in the town of Koforidua.
 
“One of our core businesses is to develop a human resource base for the space industry," he said. "If an education institution like this, a private institution like All Nations, has taken that bold step to go and do this — to train undergraduates, to train non-scientists for the industry — you know it’s very much welcome. Because we need the base, the human resource base, to go higher up.”
 
Students at All Nations spent several months working on the model satellite, coming into the lab after class and sometimes staying until just before dawn.
 
Though they initially hoped to launch the model satellite using a rocket, they were unable to get permission to import one. So instead, at just after 1 p.m. on launch day, they attached the CanSat to a bright yellow balloon, hoisting it up into the air using rope and letting it slowly fall down to earth with the help of a parachute, achieving a maximum height of 165 meters.
 
While only one of the two launch attempts was successful, the satellite did collect readable data, accomplishing the group's primary objective. As a cheering crowd looked on, the director of the lab read out temperature and air pressure readings and projected images taken by CanSat on a screen.
 
Aiding development

While some question Ghana's need for satellite technology and a space program — especially as data collected from satellites can be purchased from countries and agencies already using the technology — government officials emphasize satellite technology's ability to aid in predicting weather and natural disasters, and in monitoring natural resources.
 
Aaron Yankey, the 26-year-old systems engineer on the project, said he was glad to be part of something that could aid in the country’s development.
 
“The world is becoming more unstable — global warming and all that — so we need more sophisticated systems to monitor and predict things," he said. "I think it is very important for Ghana because Ghana is in a strategic point, economically and geopolitically, within the region. We need such things to be able to compete.”
 
But Samuel Donkor, president of All Nations University, says he has been questioned repeatedly on why he supports the program for students, which has so far cost the university $50,000.
 
“Why should we be thinking about going into space when we have basic fundamental issues with the economy and standard of living? These are some of the questions they ask," he said. "They wonder why anybody would even think of it when we can’t get a stable power supply in the country."
 
Despite the skepticism, he says the university will continue to support the satellite program.
 
Students say they hope to cast CanSat into orbit within two years.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Alyssa Davis from: U.S.A.
June 24, 2013 12:22 PM
Glad to see other countries getting involved with space and space programs. SpaceUnited helps teach students by using hands-on technology.
Alyssa Davis,Content Writer SpaceUnited


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 22, 2013 10:59 AM
Truly a giant stride. Giant strides are made by giants, not midgets, not average heights who look at their shadows to think of how tall they are. Ghana has taken much of the strides in Africa that its growth seems to be the growth of all Africa. I can remember a few years in the past Ghana depended so much on Nigeria to gainfully engage its younger population. Then Ghana's currency was like mere sand on seashore in Africa and the CFA zone. But somebody stood up and said enough is enough, and took a giant stride to strike out corruption in government. And thereafter, Ghana has grown in leaps and bounds; its economy much stronger than that of those who once harbored it; its currency now gold. It's not a big surprise if Ghana gets there within two years. Instead it will be such a delight. Then Ghana will be the true giant of Africa, as with the stride comes much economic liberation of the people.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid