GhanaSat-1 – The Journey

The quest of the All Nations University College (ANUC) from Koforidua, Ghana to make the country a space-faring nation took a giant leap forward when the first-ever successfully designed and developed satellite by Ghanaian students took place in Japan. It was then handed over to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) after going through a rigorous safety review and flight fit test in February this year.

JAXA took delivery of the Cubesat, dubbed GhanaSat-1, on February 9, 2017 and handed it over to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Florida, USA on February 13.

Ghana’s first satellite will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) by Space X, Flight 11 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. Consequently, GhanaSat-1 will be deployed from the International Space Station into orbit at an altitude of 420km on June 2, 2017 at 21:50 UTC. The deployment of GhanaSat-1 will be streamed live at JAXA Tsukuba Space Center in Japan by top Government officials and ministers.

GhanaSat-1 before being delivered to JAXA

GhanaSat-1 Mission

The successful launch of the cubesat, which weighs 1,000 grams is expected to make the dream of Ghana becoming a space-faring nation a reality and also to boost the country’s capacity to take advantage of Space Science Technology in the future. The Cubesat, described as the first private University Satellite in Sub-Saharan Africa, has low and high resolution cameras on-board to take pictures of Ghana. and provide data that can be used to monitor its coastal areas.

One of the key features is the Digi-Singer SNG module which will enable the National Anthem and other Independence songs to be played from space as well as collect requested songs from the Ground Station and upload it to the satellite to broadcast in space. This is an initiative aimed at stimulating interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in high schools and tertiary institutions.

It will also embark on a scientific mission to investigate the radiation effects on commercial-off-the-shelf microprocessors. This will measure the single event latch-up occurrence that degrades electronic systems on board satellites due to the harsh space environment. A thorough analysis of this data will greatly contribute to scientific research in the field. The two-year project, made possible through a collaboration between the ANUC and the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) in Japan, began in October 2015 was completed in December 2016.

A product of All Nations University

It was carried out entirely by three young engineering graduates of the All Nations University College, who designed, assembled and tested the satellite when they joined the Birds Project implemented by Kyutech for other four nations aspiring to be space-faring.

The trio, led by Benjamin Bonsu, a PhD student in Applied Science for Systems Engineering,  Joseph Quansah and Ernest Teye Matey, executed the project under the supervision of Professor Mengu Cho, Director of Laboratory of Spacecraft Environment Interaction Engineering (LaSEINE), as well as other faculty members of Kyutech. The young engineers, along with their team in Ghana, were the founding members of ANUC’s Space Systems and Technology Laboratory ( ANU SSTL) which designed, developed and launched successfully the University’s miniaturized Cansat on May 15, 2013, an initiative that attracted the attention of both local and international media.

The team earned their Bachelor of Engineering  in Electronics and Communications Engineering at ANUC in 2013 and constructed the University’s amateur Ground Station that currently allows the station to receive information from passing satellites. This is an achievement that has made ANUC the first University in Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa to accomplish such success in space science technology applications. The effort contributed to making the University the only local institution to be given the license as amateur license operators by the National Communication Authority (NCA) in 2014. The GhanaSat-1 project was funded by the President of the All Nations University College, Dr Samuel H. Donkor.