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Female Designers Set to Create Africa’s Inaugural Private Space Satellite

Africa is set to launch its first private satellite into space, thanks to the efforts of a group of high school girls from Cape Town, South Africa. Led by 17-year-old Brittany Bull and 16-year-old Sesam Mngqengqiswa, the team has designed and built payloads for a satellite that will orbit over the earth’s poles, focusing on scanning Africa’s surface. The main purpose of the satellite will be to collect information on agriculture and food security within the continent. By analyzing this data, the team hopes to predict and address problems that Africa may face in the future, such as crop growth, tree planting, and monitoring remote areas for forest fires and floods. The information collected will also aid in disaster prevention. The project is a collaboration between South Africa’s Meta Economic Development Organization (MEDO) and Morehead State University in the US. The 14 girls involved in the project are receiving training from satellite engineers from Cape Peninsula University of Technology, with the aim of encouraging more African women to pursue careers in STEM fields. If the launch is successful, MEDO will become the first private company in Africa to build and send a satellite into orbit. The team has already conducted initial trials by programming and launching small satellites using high-altitude weather balloons. These small satellites offer a cost-effective way of gathering data quickly. The trials have involved collecting thermal imaging data that can be used for early detection of floods or droughts. In addition to benefiting South Africa’s economy, Mngqengqiswa hopes that her involvement in the project will inspire other black Africans to pursue careers in space exploration, as no black African has been to outer space in the history of space travel. The long-term goal is to expand the project to include girls from other African countries such as Namibia, Malawi, Kenya, and Rwanda. With their groundbreaking work, these girls are proving that any career, even aerospace, is within reach for young girls in Africa.


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