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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid