Ghana and Japan Are Collaborating To Prepare Students For The New Space Age
Three graduate students from All Nations University College (ANUC) helped their home country, Ghana, make history this month. Benjamin Bonsu, Quansah Joseph Neenyi Kojo Krobo, and Ernest Teye Matey designed and built Ghana’s first satellite, GhanaSat-1.
Thanks to the BIRDS project, an international collaborative effort led by Japan, the 3 grad students were able to push Ghana right into the Space Race. Other countries who participated in the BIRDS Project June launch were Mongolia, Nigeria, Bangladesh.
In addition to the 5 participating countries of the BIRDS Project, the US played a role as well providing logistics. In June the satellites were launched by SpaceX’s Dragon from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The satellites were deployed in July but Richard Damoah, Professor and assistant research scientist at NASA, recently confirmed that GhanaSat-1 is now operational.
Considered a mini-satellite, GhanaSat-1 weighs in at 2.2lbs (1,000 grams) and is equipped with 2 cameras. ANUC announced that the satellite will be used for Earth imaging and measuring atmospheric density. The 3 graduate students will be responsible for managing the satellite.
Benjamin Bonsu shared his thoughts about working with Japan stating, “the practical hands-on training in Japan is equipping us to come back home to contribute to national development, and we strongly believe that the three of us together with our team in Ghana can use this experience to make a difference in space science technology.”
Administrators of ANUC believe the launch of the satellite brought the school one step closer to actualizing its goal of advancing the its space engineering program.
ANUC began working towards its space engineering goals in 2012 after building the Space Science and Technology Laboratory.
Dr. Kyeremeh, Vice President of Academic Affairs commented on the expansion stating, “the facility is aimed at empowering our students to design creative and innovative educative satellites and support elements for students and others in the area of space technology.”
ANUC plans to continue to take an innovative lead in preparing its youth for space related professions. The school is looking to use NASA’s aeronet facilities for research projects that will offer “comprehensive training on earth observation and data retrieval.”
Administration also plans to offer a bachelors of science degree in Space Science and Space Engineering in the near future. Japan and ANUC are still working together to train students for careers in the space science. It is very possible that ANUC and Ghana may become the go to country for students aspiring to work in the space industry.
“All Nations University College has become a cradle for developing young, talented and brilliant African minds in Ghana by equipping them for every good work,” Dr. Samuel Donkor, President of ANUC stated in a post on university’s website .
The Ghanian government did not provide support or backing of the project. Despite this, President Nana Akufo-Addo sent out a congratulatory tweet after learning news of the successful launch.
The President didn’t mention future support for the second round of the BIRDS Project launch but given the success of the first round, the Ghanaian government may change its stance. Even without being officially backed, Dr. Donkor, stated that the he was “grateful that the Government of Ghana had created an enabling environment for private universities to contribute significantly to national development.”