Tech 8 African nations on a mission to put the first African on the moon

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Lying across the equator line, most African countries have budding space agencies which if properly funded can see an African leave their footprint on the moon’s surface in the near future.

play A rocket blasting off to space. (down to earth)
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When one thinks about space exploration, Africa does not normally feature high on their minds as one of the world’s launching pads.

However, Africans countries while most are not involved in the space race they are not necessarily new to space explorations.

Lying across the equator line, most African countries have budding space agencies which if properly funded can see an African leave their footprint on the moon’s surface in the near future.

play International Space Station (ISS). (Ikerbasque)

 

The African Union Working Group on Space in 2014, for instance, approved a draft on African space policy and is currently developing a comprehensive space strategy.

Here are African countries which are piercing the space and making history in the same breath.

Ghana

This is Africa’s newest kid on the block in terms of space exploration.

The West African nation launched its first-ever satellite into space at a cost of $50,000 (£40,000).

play A picture of the team behind the satellite. (GhanaLive)

 

The GhanaSat-1 as the satellite has been christened was developed by students at the All Nation’s University College (ANUC) in the Eastern Region with support from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Also read: 5 AFRICAN FEMALE FOUNDERS WHO ARE CALLING THE SHOTS IN THE AFRICAN TECH SPACE

Nigeria

Nigeria is one of Africa’s powerhouses that is determined to leave its ‘footprints’ in space.

In 2016, Nigeria announced plans to send an astronaut into space by 2030, as part of its drive to develop a world-class space industry.

"The space program is very important," said Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, during a speech in the capital city Abuja.

 "Space is a major asset that Nigeria must be involved in for the purpose of protecting national interests."

The announcement was met with skepticism of course keeping in mind the shoestring budget the state space agency operates on.

play A satellite overlooking earth. (africa-ontherise.)

 

Nigerian Space Agency hopes to fulfill these Hercules task by partnering with China, one of the world’s space giants.

"We have always said ... the Nigerian space program is not going to be an ego trip,"  S. O. Mohammed, director general of the Nigerian National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) told CNNMoney in a past interview.

All in all, Nigeria's space program is no joke and since 2003, NASRDA has launched five satellites, with three still in orbit delivering vital services.

The most recent - NigeriaSat-X -- was the first to be designed and constructed by NASRDA engineers, and more advanced models are in development.

South Africa

play SUNSAT crew prepped for launch. (Earthzine)

 

South Africa launched its first satellite, SUNSAT, in 1999. A second, SumbandilaSat, was launched from Kazakhstan in 2009.

In 2010, South Africa formed its national space agency called South Africa National Space Agency, (SANSA) with the intent of consolidating space-related research, projects and research in South Africa and to assume the role as a regional center for space research in Africa.

In 2013, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology launched South Africa's first CubeSat – a type of nano-satellite, known as  ZACUBE-1.

Also read: 5 LITTLE KNOWN BUT EXTREMELY INNOVATIVE AFRICAN STARTUPS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Kenya

play The Broglio Space Center in Malindi. (Panoramio)

 

Until last year, there was nothing much to write about Kenya’s space exploration apart from a few space brushes here and there coupled with Kenya’s unique position on the equator.

All this, however, is set to change after the country’s cabinet finally approved the formation of the Kenya National Space Agency in 2016 at a cost of $96 million.

The development paves way for Kenya to venture into space science after a long break.

"This is a great step in the right direction as it will help the country in critical sectors such as agriculture, mining and forestry among others,"  the Director General of the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) Dr. Moses Rugutt said.

play PHOTO | FILE The offshore San Rita space platform is one of the smaller sites that that make up the Luigi Broglio Space Centre in Malindi. (nation)

 

Kenya's first satellite was launched in 1970 and was named Uhuru, its mission was to study celestial X-ray astronomy.

Kenya was also involved in the launching of the first Italian satellite from the San Marco space station of Ngomeni falls in Malindi.

Angola

The first Angolan satellite, built by a Russian consortium, will be placed in orbit in the first quarter of 2017, according to the Secretary of State for Telecommunications, Aristides Safeca.

Ethiopia

play Solomon Belay, director of the Entoto Observatory and Research Centre, stands on the right-hand side of one of the observatory's two telescopes. (Inter Press Service)

 

In 2015, Ethiopia built a privately funded astronomical observatory, taking the first step towards creating a fully fledged national space agency.

Located in the hills outside of the Addis Ababa, the Entoto Observatory and Research Center is propelling the nation forward in Africa's space race.

In January this year, the government said it would launch a Chinese-built civilian satellite from an overseas rocket pad within the next five years.

Algeria

Algeria, established its space agency in 2002 and since then it has launched five disaster monitoring microsatellites.

The Algerian Space Agency (ASAL) announced the successful launch of three earth observation satellites; Alsat-1B, Alsat-2B and Alsat-1N  on 26 September 2016 from Chennai, India.

Egypt

play Egypt as seen from space. (Photo by Scott Kelly)

 

Egypt’s National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Science was established in 1971 with help from the U.S. government.

Egypt launched its first satellite in 2007 for scientific research.

Recently, the country announced that it plans to launch a second satellite and aggressively pursue the creation of an African Space Station to compete with the International Space Station (ISS).