Africa is now officially in the space race. On July 7, the GhanaSat-1, Ghana’s first satellite, began its orbit. The miniature satellite (known as a cubesat), built by a Ghanaian engineering team at All Nations University, was delivered to NASA’s International Space Station in June on the SpaceX rocket that took off from pad 39a at the Kennedy Space Center.
The GhanaSat-1 is now fully operational, according to project manager Richard Damoah, a Ghanaian professor and assistant research scientist at NASA. The satellite was launched to help with detailed monitoring of Ghana's coastlines (it has cameras on board), and to serve as the first step in integrating satellite technology into high school curriculum.
GhanaSat-1 was developed by a team of engineers that included Benjamin Bonsu, Ernest Teye Matey, and Joseph Quansah, and while Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo applauded the launch and congratulated the team directly, unsurprisingly, the project was funded by another country.
Japan’s national space agency, JAXA, provided the bulk of the resources and training to develop the satellite. The team did not receive official Ghanaian government support, however they're now looking to develop a GhanaSat-2, with high resolution cameras, that could monitor things such as illegal mining, water use, and deforestation in the country - hopefully with their home government's support.
Nigeria’s first cubesat launched on the same SpaceX mission, but the operational status of our satellite is still unclear.