Come May 2017, African girls will have made their mark in space; potentially, the first of many to come. That could be so after news about 14 South African girls designed and developed a payload of satellite set to be sent to space next year.
The satellite will be used to collect data that will be used to support farming activities on the continent. The girls want to use meteorological data collected from space to help African farmers prepare for natural calamities and be food secure.
This project was spearheaded by South Africa’s Meta Economic Development Organization (MEDO) in collaboration with the U.S.-based Morehead State University.
Currently, the girls are undergoing training session by a team of engineers from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. The girls are part of a concerted effort to get more African girls have an interest in the world of STEM.
These girls are also hoping to one day get the chance to journey to space. As you can pick up from the 16-year-old Sesam Mngqengqiswa address to CNN:
“Discovering space and seeing the Earth’s atmosphere, it’s not something many black Africans have been able to do, or do not get the opportunity to look at. I want to see these things for myself. I want to be able to experience these things.”
Dr Mae C. Jemison, the first female African-American astronaut and Chief Ambassador for Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense program, made a rejoinder to the Seeker commending these girls’ achievements: “Providing an avenue for young women in Africa to design, build, test and launch satellites is dear to my heart. The skill sets and confidence developed in such an undertaking is important. In addition, the world will benefit from new perspectives, problem identification and problem-solving capacity we will gain.”
Once up and running in space, the satellite is expected to be used to collect information to be used in identifying and solving climate challenges facing the continent.
“We expect to receive a good signal, which will allow us to receive reliable data,” said Mngqengqiswa. “In South Africa we have experience some of the worst floods and droughts and it has really affected the farmers very badly.”