Africa to fly into space to everyone's amazement

The launch of an artificial satellite to the orbit by the Soviet Union in October of 1957 commenced the space race that reached an unprecedented scale today. Every more or less developed country wants to conquer the space. African states are tired of being the outsiders and decided to create their own space agency.

The prestige and security of the state are the main purposes for which the space powers have spared no funds. The African countries intend to create their own space agency to no longer depend on the leaders in space exploration. This problem was posed by the Ministers of the African Union at the ongoing conference in the Sudanese capital.

"Africa simply has to have its own space agency," said Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, opening a two-day forum. Future agency "AfriSpace" must develop space policy of the Black continent for many years to come and work out problems for all member countries.

Twenty years ago, the African countries have created an intergovernmental commercial agency. In 2007, the agency launched a satellite into the Earth's orbit. Three years later, they launched another satellite that provided telephone connection, broadband, television transmission and radio throughout the continent. As stated in the documents of the meeting, in Africa there is now a huge demand for broadband Internet. By 2018, the African countries are planning to increase its speed to 6,000 gigabits per second. Consider the story of the development of the space industry in various countries of the African continent.

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda a few years ago called for the Africans to fly to the moon. According to him, the Africans need to understand what they do in the open space of the developed countries. "The Americans have traveled to the Moon, so have the Russians. The Chinese and Indians will soon fly there. The Africans are the only ones who are stuck here," said the president, speaking to the lawyers of the country. Museveni noted that the people of Uganda cannot independently carry out this mission, but by combining all the countries of East Africa, it will become a reality. The President of Uganda has long pushed for a single economic and political space in East Africa. It can be created by combining Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi. The Space Project is just one of the elements of such cooperation.

The South African government announced the creation of the national space agency of the country. Minister of Science and Technology of South Africa said that in about 10 years the country hopes to become a leader in the field of astronomical research technologies. South Africa today has numerous modern space research stations and telescopes. The country puts a lot of effort into expanding its influence in space.

The emergence of a national space agency may play a greater role for the African scientific community. SANSA Space Agency will encourage investment in the space industry and the development of local science. The new agency will have the right to control the two previously launched microsatellites in the interests of South Africa that transmit images to detect the number of natural disasters, as well as engage in monitoring of water resources in Africa.

In the first phase the main task of the agency will be the union of disparate scientific experts who have worked in the space industry in South Africa. Many studies in the 1990s were put on hold. The new agency began its work in the spring of 2012. As specified by the South African government, the work of its own space agency would cost annually $ 87 million.

Nigeria is the third country in Africa (after South Africa and Algeria) that has its own satellites. To date, it has launched five satellites. The launch of the first satellite was planned in 1976, but was not possible. The first Nigerian satellite weighted 100 kg and was called NigeriaSat-1. It was built by the British company SSTL, with the participation of Nigerian scientists. On September 27, 2003 it was launched from the Russian Plesetsk launch pad on a Russian missile "Kosmos-3M". The satellite has the task of monitoring emergencies. Remote sensing satellites NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X of the same production were launched in August of 2011 from the Ukrainian launch pad.

The first geostationary communications satellite NigComSat-1 in Africa, made in China, was launched from the Xichang space center of China on May 13, 2007. After decommission it was replaced by NigComSat-1R, launched on December 19, 2011. Nigeria plans to continue to use satellites for the exploration of mineral deposits, communications, weather forecasting and research.

Next year communications satellite NigComSat-2 and NigComSat-3 will be launched. In 2015, military satellite of remote sensing of the Earth and even the AMC for lunar exploration are planned for launch. In 2015, Nigeria intends to prepare and send to space its first astronauts. This was negotiated with China and Russia. In the future, Nigeria plans to independently create its own satellites and launch vehicles.

Every year, the African countries are becoming stronger economically. Therefore, the union in space may produce dramatic results. The joint work pays off, especially when it comes to space, where the expenses amount to billions. The African countries also need to think about attracting private capital. Practice shows that it yields results. For example, spaceship Dragon has successfully docked to the International Space Station and delivered 500 kg of cargo to the station. The main advantage of this ship was that it was the result of private initiative, marking a new stage of progress.

African nations also need to think about the private company, akin to Space X that showed the world how to explore the space.

Some may say that the exploration of space in times of a crisis is a waste of large sums of money. Perhaps it would be wiser to spend such large sums of money to improve the social well-being and standard of living. But this is not the case. Space programs are beneficial to all. Technologies developed for the space industry have practical application in daily life, contributing to the economic growth and, consequently, standard of living.

For example, the tools used to eliminate muscle atrophy in astronauts are used in modern medicine. Program landing of American astronauts on the moon that cost $240 billion has produced over 500 high-tech patents. Research shows that every dollar invested in space brings eventually $7-12. Therefore, the African countries are doing the right thing.

Sergei Vasilenkov


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov