Space is no longer a frontier for the elites. More developing nations are keen to explore the benefits of this dark world which engulfs our planet. Developing nations are successfully disrupting this space without spending billions and billions and billions of dollars. Space is not something which comes to ones mind when discussing about Africa. With the launch of GhanaSat 1, industry experts across the globe are welcoming Africa in space race. Some might not be happy. There will always be a microscopic minority that will try to sour this achievement, like they did with India when it successfully launched its first inter-planetary mission to Mars. Developing nations like Ghana, Nigeria and Bangladesh are aware of the immense potential of space technology and its usage in agriculture, telecom, education and defense.

Ghana’s cubical GhanaSat 1 aims to defend its 540 km coastline and integrate high school curriculum with satellite technology. It weighs around 1 kg and works on power generated by solar cells. Launched from International Space Station, GhanaSat 1 is the brainchild of Ghanian students at All Nations University College in the eastern city of Kofridua. This earth observation and technology satellite was carried on Falcon 9 rocket of SpaceX.

GhanaSat 1 will also be used to measure the effects of radiation in space on commercial microprocessors. The satellite will also crackdown on the menace of illegal mining in Ghana. Most of the research and training were backed by Japanese Space Exploration Agency, the national space agency of Japan under Joint Multi-Nation Birds Satellite Project. The project cost is pegged at $5,00,000 which is much lower than what established space agencies spend.

Countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa already have space agencies of their own. Of late, even Angola have been working on coming up with its very own space agency. All these developments have pushed Africa a step further towards realizing its space faring dreams. The shift from wearing sandals to owning a bike and now space satellite, the human story of Africa is truly transformational. Studying space is an advanced frontier in human development. Take a look at India, it now uses satellite for fishing, agriculture, traffic management, afforestation, education and disaster management.

The satellite boom is not just restricted to Africa. Bangladesh is scheduled to launch its first satellite in December 2017. The Bangabandhu satellite will be launched using a SpaceX vehicle from the Cape Canaveral launch pad and will start its commercial operations from March 2018.  This satellite will bring enormous development & uninterrupted telecommunication system in Bangladesh especially in television, telephone & Internet service which Bangladesh usually purchase from overseas. At present Bangladesh is spending annually more than $14 million on satellite rent to ensure connectivity of television, radio, telephone and Internet. Bangladesh plans to rent its communication capabilities to Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Low cost innovation has shattered the hegemony of developed nations in space technology. India recently broke a record by launching 104 satellite from a single vehicle. Reusability and cost savings seems to be the way forward for space dominance in future. There is no doubt that developing nations will lead in this frontier.

– Chaitanya Kulkarni.



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