Ghana has become the latest African country to launch its first space satellite. The feat was made possible by the collaboration between Ghana’s university All Nations University and Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan. The satellite, which weighs 1000 grams was built by Ghanaian students. The Cubesat, which has been named GhanaSat1 was designed by a trio led by Benjamin Bonsu, a PhD student in Applied Science for System Engineering, Joseph Quansah and Ernest Teye Matey of the All Nations University, Koforidua.
The two-year project, which started in October 2015 and was due to be completed in December 2016. It was carried out entirely by the three young students who designed it prior to assembling and testing. The project cost $50,000 (£40,000). The students will operate the satellite using the All Nations University College (ANUC) Ground Station at Koforidua.
The students, together with their team in Ghana, were the founding members of ANUC’s Space Science and Technology Laboratory (SSTL), which designed, developed and launched the university’s miniaturised Cansat on May 15, 2013.
In 2014, they also constructed the University’s amateur Ground Station that currently receives information from some satellites, an achievement that made the ANUC the first University in Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa to accomplish such success in space science technology.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) took delivery of the Cubesat, named Ghanasat-1, on February 9, 2017 and handed it over to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Florida, USA on February 13. The satellite was built in Japan and was deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) after being lifted off from the launch pad of the JAXA aboard the H-II transfer vehicle (Kounotori).
Ghana’s first satellite was launched on the International Space Station (ISS) by Space X, Flight 11 from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, USA. The deployment of GhanaSat1 was watched live at JAXA Tsukuba Space Centre in Japan by top government officials and ministers.
The successful launch of Ghanasat-1 is expected to make the dream of Ghana becoming a space-faring nation a reality, and also boost the country’s capacity to take advantage of space science technology in the future.
Ghanasat-1, described as the first university satellite in sub-Saharan Africa, has low and high resolution cameras on board to take pictures and provide data that can be used to monitor the coastal areas of Ghana.
As part of its mission, the first experimental university cubesat will embark on earth imaging of Ghana via two on-board cameras and broadcast songs, including the national anthem, from space to the All Nations University Ground Station and Ham radio receivers.
The Ghanaian satellite wasn’t the only satellite launched. Nigeria’s Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) launched its cubestat codenamed Nigeria Edustat1. The Nigerian Cubestat was designed, built and owned by FUTA in collaboration with the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRD).