Friday, December 21, 2012

African nations start space programs

The nations in Africa are behind, but they are growing their economies. And getting into space is getting much cheaper.

Nigeria has two satellites in orbit to survey farm land. Ghana is converting a communications dish to a radio telescope. Uganda is aiming to orbit a camera.

But, you say, it's much cheaper to get images using Google Earth! And, of course, a nation can contract for images from the same sources Google uses. True, but it is very inspiring. In Uganda the director of its $45 million program Chris Nsamaba says "We're building this ourselves; we've never consulted anybody." (I would consult others.) He continued "In Uganda… we teach ourselves how to do something." Self sufficiency is very healthy, but you learn from others….

South Africa is a leader...

Wall Street Journal

… If all goes well, South Africa will convert idle antennas in Kenya, Zambia, and Madagascar into a continentwide network of telescopes. That would be a prelude for the Square Kilometer Array—a $1.87 billion telescope nest, the world's biggest, based in South Africa.

Come 2025, South Africa would like to build at least one other, much more sophisticated telescope up in Ghana's north for the array. Scientists at that facility would track radiation hinting at how the universe began, says Ms. Loots, who is an associate director for the Square Kilometer Array.

But first, Ghana's Space Center needs a good welder to mend bolts on the Nkuntese dish. The preferred candidate let his certification expire and needs cash for his recertification test...

Ah… reality.

No comments: