Student engineers behind the successful launch of Ghana’s first satellite into orbit have appealed to the government to set up a multi-stakeholder committee to come up with an act, the Ghana outer space act, a key requirement that would enable the country to ratify and sign the United Nations Outer Space Treaty.
They said if the country signed and ratified the treaty, it would give investors the signal and confidence that the country was ready for them to come and establish space science facilities.
“There are a lot of commercial space actors who want to come and invest in facilities such as those for space environment testing, launch opportunities and assembly integration and functional testing of satellite, which will all boost the development of Ghana’s space science activities," they stated.
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In an interaction with the editorial board of the Daily Graphic in Accra last Tuesday, the leader of the team, Mr Benjamin Bonsu, said: “We stand to gain a lot if Ghana could allow these investors to come in, by coming out with regulations that govern its space science activities, because this is a new channel for us to tap into.”
The team, including Mr Joseph Quansah and Ernest Teye Matey, had met with the editorial board in Accra to give members an insight into the progress of the GhanaSat-1 projects and the various opportunities the country could tap from in the space science world.
They also highlighted the long-term development plans of the All Nations University College (ANUC), the sponsors of the project, towards the development of GhanaSat-2 after the end of the GhanaSat-1 in two years’ time.
On July 7, 2017, GhanaSat-1 was launched into orbit by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), from the International Space Station (ISS), a move that focused international attention on Ghana.
The trio, graduates of ANUC, were part of the Birds Project implemented by the Graduate School of Engineering of the Kyushu Institute of Technology (KYUTEC) for five nations aspiring to be space-faring.
Opportunities to explore
Mr Bonsu stated that the launch of GhanaSat-1 had opened enormous opportunities which the country should explore to boost the development of its space science and technology.
He said the satellite had also offered them, as young engineers, wider knowledge about ratification of outer space treaties because the United Nations Officer for Outer Space had been “ringing our bells as to when Ghana will be able to register space object launch.
“They have made us understand that Ghana is now part of the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Use of Outer Space (UNCOPUS) but we have not ratified all the five outer space treaties,” he stated.
Mr Bonsu expressed optimism that the GhanaSat-1 project would help the country with another opportunity to join and be part of all the international cooperation in using space science for the benefit of Ghanaians.
“Presently, the European Space Agency, JAXA, NASA and other international space agencies want to go to the moon and mine various minerals.
“In the outer space treaties are the moon agreements and all member states that can ratify and sign the treaties stand to benefit from such space mining and this is a great opportunity for Ghana,” he added.
Time to act
According to Mr Bonsu, Nigeria was currently benefiting from various international space science activities because it had agreed to have space objects in orbit that gave it huge opportunities.
“Because Nigeria has a space agency and ratified the UN Outer Space treaty, all the UN space centres and other opportunities go to Nigeria,” he said.
He stressed that Ghana could also enjoy such opportunities if the government, through the Ministry of Environment, Science Technology and Innovation as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Council of State, collaborated to ratify and sign the UN treaties and register GhanaSat-1.
Mr Bonsu expressed worry that Ghana, as a member of the UN COPUS since 2013, had attended only one meeting of the agency, making her an inactive member.
“But we now have GhanaSat-1 in orbit and we can use this satellite to get the various opportunities that other member states attending the UNCOPUS scientific technical sub-committee and legal subcommittee have been getting, such as being helped to develop their space science activities as developing nations.”