GhanaSat-1 Releases into Orbit

Posted On:  14-Jul-2017

Ghana’s desire to become a space-faring nation became a reality last Friday when it successfully deployed its first satellite into orbit.

Christened ‘Ghanasat-1’, the satellite, which weighs 1,000 grammes, was released from the International Space Station (ISS) at exactly 8:50 a.m. last Friday by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) at an altitude of 400 kilometres above the earth’s atmosphere aboard the Japan Kibo Deployment System.

Ghanasat -1 will undertake earth imaging of Ghana via two on-board cameras and broadcast songs, including the National Anthem, from space to the All Nations University Ground Station and amateur ground stations. The satellite was developed by three former students of the All Nations University College (ANUC) in Koforidua who were part of the Birds Project undertaken by the Graduate School of Engineering of the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan (Kyutech).

The students are Mr Benjamin Bonsu, Mr Joseph Quansah and Mr Ernest Teye Matey.

The Birds Project is a cross-border interdisciplinary satellite project for non-space-faring countries, supported by Japan. The participating countries are Ghana, Mongolia, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

Historic achievement

The historic deployment was watched live by the management of the ANUC, led by its President, Dr Samuel H. Donkor, and Ghana’s Ambassador to Japan, Mr Sylvester Allotey Parker, at the JAXA Tsukuba Space Centre.

In Ghana, the event was broadcast live on the main campus of ANUC, where it was witnessed by an official of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States, the management, faculty and students of the ANUC who stood up to offer a rapturous applause for the successful launch.

It was also covered live by both local and international media, including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), with some media relaying it live via their social media platforms.

First signals

Four hours thirty-four minutes after the deployment of the satellite, a team at the ANUC’s Space Science and Technology Laboratory (SSTL) received the first signals from the orbiting satellite at exactly 12:16 p.m.

The Team Leader, Mr Ernest Matey, described them as “weak but encouraging signals”.

The next signal of the device, which will do a complete orbiting of the earth every 90 minutes at the speed of 7.5 kilometres per second, is expected at exactly 6 p.m. (last Friday).

Students’ Appreciation

On behalf of his colleagues, the Project Manager, Mr Bonsu, thanked Dr Donkor, Kyutech, the Birds Team and JAXA for supporting the project.

We are really proud and we thank God for what He has done for Ghana. We hope our government will support the vision of the project and other sustainable projects we have to contribute to Ghana’s space activities,” he said.


Brains behind project

The two-year project, which started in October 2015 and was completed in December 2016, was carried out entirely by the three young students who designed it prior to assembling and testing as part of the Kyutech’s Birds Project.

The trio had been commended for working hard to achieve the target set by Kyutech.

Mr Bonsu is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Science Engineering in Applied Science for Integrated System Engineering at Kyutech in Fukuoka, Japan, where the two others are also undertaking their masters in the same discipline.

They executed the project under the supervision of Prof. Mengu Cho, the Director of Laboratory of Spacecraft Environment Interaction Engineering (LaSEINE) and three other faculty members of Kyutech.

Previous achievements

The students, together with their team in Ghana, including Aaron Yankey, were the founder members of the ANUC’s SSTL which designed, developed and launched the university’s miniaturised Cansat on May 15, 2013.

They completed their Bachelor of Science degree programmes in Electronics and Communications Engineering at the ANUC in 2013.

In 2014, they also constructed the university’s amateur ground station that currently receives information from some satellites, an achievement that made the ANUC the first university in Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa to accomplish such a feat in space science technology.

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