News / Science & Technology

Africa Looks to the Final Frontier - Space

Africa Looks to the Final Frontier - Spacei
X
June 19, 2013 10:59 AM
Space. The final frontier. And, one that African nations have largely left unexplored. But with the emergence of space agencies around the continent, some intrepid space-gazers are studying ways to boldly go where few Africans have gone before. In South Africa, VOA’s Anita Powell takes a look.]
Anita Powell
Space, the final frontier, and one that African nations have largely left unexplored.  But with the emergence of space agencies around the continent, some intrepid space-gazers are studying ways to boldly go where few Africans have gone before.

Observers looking at Africa today will see a new reality.
 
Satellite dishes monitor hundreds of privately owned satellites above Africa in Africa’s largest earth observation center - at the South African National Space Agency.
 
Managing Director Raoul Hodges said a space agency is a valuable asset -- and that Africa has the means to go into space. But he said such a reality is years off and will take serious planning.

“If you combined resources and you combined efforts, such as the Nigerian effort, such as the Egyptian effort, the Algerian effort, and the South African effort specifically," he explained. "Where we have the infrastructure and prior to 1994, when we were able to integrate satellites, yes, the technical knowledge is there, and the capability is there. Is there funding? Yes, there is funding. There are some rich oil nations in Africa..”
 
Officials with the African Union said a pan-African space agency can solve some of the continent’s earthly problems.
 
“It’s one of the most important cross-cutting issues that serves agriculture, serves communication, serves infrastructure, serves [the] border program, also serves demography and movement of people, serves peace and security," said Abdul Hakim Elwaer is with the African Union. "It goes into mineral resources and future development. The idea of a space program is to develop a program that can provide the real data on the ground in Africa, all over Africa, and provide it for the policymakers to be able to develop policies and plans and strategies that are based on information, knowledge-based strategies for the future.”
 
In South Africa, universities are also furthering space research.
 
At this physics lab at the University of the Witwatersrand, graduate students are using a vacuum to test tiny micro-propulsion systems that one day could be used to position smaller, less expensive satellites.
 
It’s a small step for researcher Jonathan Lund -- but he said his work could someday lead to great leaps in how normal people live their lives.

“I think, moving forward, we’re definitely going to be saying, satellites are there to support infrastructure that we rely on on a daily basis already today.  So moving forward, we can actually benefit the economy by building sats and studying space,” he said.

Which brings us back to these lowly blesboks.
 
Like many of us, they have little understanding of the complex calculations behind Africa’s burgeoning space industry. But here on African soil, scientists are looking for ways to make our lives easier -- by looking to space.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid