Teenage girls launching Africa’s first civilian space satellite | CNN Business

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Africa launches first civilian satellite into space

It was built by a female student


Although they may be teenagers, 17-year-old Brittany Bull and 16-year-old Sesammunken Kiswa have great ambitions to launch Africa’s first civilian satellite into space in 2019.

They are part of a team of high school girls living in Cape Town, South Africa, who designed and built a payload of a satellite orbiting the Earth’s poles that scans the surface of Africa.

Upon arriving in space, the satellite collects information about agriculture and food security within the continent.

Bull, a student at Pelican Park High School, explains that the data sent can be used to “identify and predict future problems facing Africa.”

“There are ways to monitor where our food grows, where we can plant more trees and plants, and in remote areas,” she says. “There are a lot of wildfires and floods, but it’s not always in time.”

Information twice a day is useful for disaster prevention.

This is part of a project by South Africa’s Metaeconomic Development Organization (MEDO) in collaboration with Morehead State University in the United States.

The girls (14 in total) are being trained by satellite engineers at the Cape Peninsula Institute of Technology to involve more African women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

If the launch is successful, MEDO will be Africa’s first private company to build and put satellites into orbit.

“We expect to receive a good signal that will allow us to receive reliable data,” declares Philippi High School enthusiast Mngqengqiswa. “In South Africa, the worst floods and droughts have had a huge impact on farmers.”

By 2020, MEDO predicts that 80% of jobs will be related to STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics), but currently only 14% of the world's STEM workforce is women.

The drought and environmental impacts of climate change have continued to plague the country in recent years. The drought caused by El Nino is 9.3 million tons According to a UN report, corn production in southern Africa in April 2016.

“It has depressed our economy … this is a way to see how we can boost our economy,” says young Mngqengqiswa.

The women's satellite has a detailed view of South Africa's drought crisis, leading to a 9.3 million ton shortage of South African corn production in April 2016.

In the first test, the girl programmed and launched a small CricketSat satellite using a high-altitude balloon, and finally assisted in the construction of the satellite payload.

Small satellites are a low-cost way to quickly collect data on Earth. Previous tests have collected thermal image data and interpreted it for early flood or drought detection.

“It’s a new field for us [in Africa] But I think it can bring about positive changes in the economy, “says Mngqengqiswa.

Ultimately, it is hoped that girls from Namibia, Malawi, Kenya and Rwanda will participate in the project.

Mngqengqiswa comes from a single-parent family. Her mother is a domestic worker. By becoming a space engineer or astronaut, teenagers want to be proud of her mother.

“Discovering the universe and seeing the Earth’s atmosphere is not something many black Africans can do, and they have no chance to see it,” says Mngqengqiswa.

Schoolgirl is right. In half a century of space travel, black Africans did not travel to space. “I want to see these things for myself. I want to be able to experience these things,” says Mngqengqiswa.

Her teammate, Bull, agrees: Any carrier is possible-even in aerospace. ”

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