Africa sets its sights on space

In many African countries, access to education for young girls is a strongly driven cause, as is the case in many developing regions. Yet there are stories from the continent that continue to inspire people the world over.

One such story comes from South Africa, where 14 teen girls have made their mark on Africa’s pursuit of new frontiers by designing and building payloads for the first private space satellite to be launched in May 2017.

The satellite will be used to gather agricultural information through thermal imaging data, and assist in foreseeing natural disasters in the hope of improving food security in Africa. The satellite will also help provide connectivity to remote regions.

This is the fruit of the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) programme, subjects that are all necessary in the development of space development in the country and on the continent. The high school learners worked alongside engineers from Cape Peninsula University of Technology and with Meta Economic Development Organisation, a privately owned company that has spearheaded the project.

South Africa – which launched its first satellite, the SUNSAT, in 1999 in America – and Nigeria have the most advanced satellite programmes in Africa, and have been joined by Kenya and Ghana. The 2017 launch, however, will be the first collective space effort.

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