UP, UP AND AWAY; University Students Might Have Launched Ghana's Space Program with the Testing of a Balloon-Powered Satellite

By Corey-Boulet, Robbie | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 19, 2013 | Go to article overview

UP, UP AND AWAY; University Students Might Have Launched Ghana's Space Program with the Testing of a Balloon-Powered Satellite


Corey-Boulet, Robbie, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


KOFORIDUA, Ghana * Their project might not sound like much: The college students on Wednesday launched a tiny model of a satellite the size of a soda can on a big yellow balloon.

It went aloft to a height of 165 yards and then came back down attached to a parachute.

Yet in this developing West African country, ambitious organizers who recently launched the Ghana Space Science and Technology Center see the test as a sign of bigger things to come.

"We hope that this practical demonstration of what can be done by students like them will generate more enthusiasm, fire up their imagination to come up with more creative things, and show that it's possible that they'll one day be able to launch their own real satellite into orbit," said Prosper Kofi Ashilevi, director of the space center that marked its one-year anniversary this month.

The effort has drawn some skepticism, acknowledged Samuel H. Donkor, the president of All Nations University.

"They think it is a pipe dream, a waste of money," said Donkor, who has directed $50,000 to the program.

But Ashilevi, the space center director, said it was essential for local universities to train students with a passion for space.

"Some wonder why we couldn't concentrate on our problems of water, sanitation, health, all those things. I categorically disagree," he said. "Space will help African countries who are very serious with it to leapfrog their development because it cuts across all sectors of the economy."

Experts say Ghana is probably a good five years or more from developing its own operational satellites, which could one day be used to confront everything from natural disasters to the smuggling of natural resources.

Wednesday's project, though, started at All Nations University with just a big balloon to carry aloft the miniature model of a satellite, known as a Deployable CanSat. …

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