A growing number of African countries are ramping up their space programmes. The African Union has even launched the African Space Policy and Strategy to regulate the space. We take a look at some key trends and players in this growing industry.
South Africa: Home to the continent’s most developed space industry.
1999: Orbits its first satellite, Sunsat, built at the University of Stellenbosch.
2002: Entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth becomes the first African to visit space as part of a Russian flight to the International Space Station.
2010: The South African National Space Agency is established.
2017: Two locally developed nanosatellites are among 28 from 23 countries launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 18 April.
2018 onwards: Part of the planned Square Kilometer Array, the world’s largest radio telescope, will be constructed in South Africa.
Nigeria: second only to South Africa
2001: The National Space Research and Development Agency is established.
2003: Its first satellite, NigeriaSat-1, is launched by a Kosmos-3M rocket from Russia’s Plesetsk spaceport. Five satellites have been launched to date, including NigComSat-1, Africa’s first communications satellite.
2017: In January Nigeria announces a $550m deal with China for two new communications satellites. The aim is to increase Africa’s share of the $260bn global satellite industry.
By 2030: Nigeria has stated its intent to send the country’s first astronaut into space by 2030.
Other countries ramping up their space programmes:
Egypt: In 2007 launches its first Earth remote sensing satellite, EgyptSat 1, on a Dnepr rocket from Ukraine. EgyptSat 2 was launched in 2014. Planning to launch Russian-made EgyptSat-A in 2019.
Algeria: Launched its first communications satellite, Alcomsat-1, on a Chinese-made Long March 3B/G2 in December 2017.
Morocco: Launched its first spy satellite, Mohammed VI-A, in November 2017.
Ghana: Launched its first satellite, GhanaSat-1, which was developed by students at All Nations University in Koforidua, in July 2017. The cost of manufacture and launch was $500,000.
Ethiopia: Plans to send its first satellite into space in the next three to five years to help with weather monitoring.