The International Astronautic Federation (IAF) has conferred the 2017 Best Interactive Presentation Award to Mr Benjamin Bonsu, the leader of the GhanaSat-1 Project that launched Ghana’s first satellite into space on July 7, 2017.
The award was given in recognition of his presentation on GhanaSat-1 and the current space activities in Ghana at the 68th International Astronautical Congress held in Adelaide, Australia in September 2017.
His presentation, titled: “First Ghana satellite to enhance sustainable space programme in Ghana,” won the Space and Society Category, making him one of the best five award winners from Germany, Ghana, Italy and Malaysia. The award winners were selected among the 538 participants in the ceremony.
As part of his award, Mr Bonsu was offered 300 euros, a one-minute video capsule, an opportunity to talk about his paper which will be published on IAF Youtube page and other television networks globally, as well as a gala dinner with major space experts.
The Interactive Presentation Award is awarded annually to recognise exceptional students and young professionals who demonstrate leadership early in their academic and professional careers.
Additionally, award recipients are recognised, among others, for their contributions to astronautics through their academic and professional activities, as well as their efforts in sharing their knowledge and experience with other young people.
After receiving the award, Mr Bonsu expressed appreciation to the President of the All Nations University College (ANUC), Dr Samuel H. Donkor, for sponsoring the GhanaSat-1 Project, which was part of the Birds Project of the Kyushu Institute of Technology (KYUTECH) in Fukuoka, Japan.
“The Birds Project is one of the unique projects where developing countries can build their capacity in satellite development, mission planning and disposal.
“Today, Ghana, by virtue of the Birds Project, is part of the global space community,” he said, and urged the government to support university-based approach in building capacity in space science technology in the country.
Mr Bonsu, who is currently pursuing his doctorate degree in Applied Science for System Engineering at KYUTECH, and his colleagues—Joseph Quansah and Ernest Teye Matey–designed, assembled and tested Ghana’s first satellite, christened “GhanaSat-1” which was launched into space in July 2017.
The trio, former students of ANUC were part of the Birds Project implemented by the Graduate School of Engineering of the KYUTECH for five nations aspiring to be space-faring.
After a successful launch of Ghana’s first satellite, GhanaSat -1, on June 1, 2017, from Florida in the United States of America, the country’s first space technology is set to be deployed into orbit tentatively on July 6 or 7, this year from the International Space Station (ISS) into orbit at an estimated altitude of 400 km above the earth’s atmosphere via the Japan/Kibo Deployment System.
On the deployment day, the management of All Nations University College (ANUC), led by Dr Samuel Donkor, which has its hands deep in the milestone, will join Ghana’s Ambassador to Japan, Mr Parker Allotey, at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Tsukuba Space Centre to participate in the event. The duo will join others in monitoring the countdown to the deployment of the satellite from the ISS, offer interviews and a press conference.
As part of the event, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is expected to send a congratulatory message via video conference to the Ghana team who built the satellite.
The satellite will be controlled from the ground using the All Nations‘s Amateur Ground Station located on the University’s Main Campus in Koforidua.
The Ground Station will establish communication with GhanaSat-1 using UHF/VHF amateur frequency bands. It will also be supported by Birds Ground Station Network, which is managed by the Infostellar Company, and all Ham radio operators across the world.
Amateur Radio (Ham radio) is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones.
The Ground Station at ANUC will be used to track the satellites passing over Ghana, receive health telemetry data status and send commands to the satellite during its pass above the country.
While traversing the country’s space, the satellite will accomplish several missions, including taking pictures of the country to monitor the coastal regions and demonstrate space to ground communication by broadcasting songs from space to stimulate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in Ghana.
It will also embark on a scientific mission to investigate the radiation effects on commercial-off-the-shelf microprocessors. This means it will measure the single event latch-up occurrence that degrades electronic system on board satellites due to the harsh space environment and analyse this data to contribute to scientific research.
The GhanaSat-1 mission data will be made available to the government and non-governmental institutions to inspire and aid in building capacity in space science and technology applications.
The satellite was handed over to JAXA early this year after it had gone 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.
The deployment of GhanaSat-1 was watched live at JAXA Tsukuba Space Centre in Japan by top government officials and ministers. 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 boost the country’s capacity to take advantage of space science and technology in the future.
The Cubesat, described as the first University satellite in sub-Saharan Africa, has low and high resolution cameras on board to take pictures of the country and provide data that can be used to monitor the coastal areas of Ghana.
It also has a Digi-Singer SNG mission from which the national anthem and other independence songs can be broadcast from space, as well as collect requested songs from the ground and send to the satellite to broadcast in space.
It is an initiative aimed at stimulating interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in high schools and tertiary institutions.
Brains behind project
The two-year project, was made possible through a collaboration between the ANUC and the Kyutech Institute of Technology (Kyutech) in Japan, began in October 2015, was completed in December 2016.
It was carried out entirely by three young engineering graduates of the ANUC 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 System Engineering, Joseph Quansah and Ernest Teye Matey, executed the project under the supervision of Professor Mengu Cho, the Director of Laboratory of Spacecraft Environment Interaction Engineering (LaSEINE), and other faculty members of Kyutech.
The young engineers and their team in Ghana were the founder members of ANUC’s Space Science and Technology Laboratory (SSTL) which designed, developed and launched successfully the University’s miniaturised Cansat on May 15, 2013, an initiative that attracted the attention of both local and international media.
The trio completed their Bachelor of Science degree 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.
It is an achievement that has made ANUC the first University in Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa to accomplish such a feat in space science technology applications. The effort contributed to make the University the only local institution to be given the licence as amateur licence operators by the National Communication Authority (NCA) in 2014.