Africa

Teen girls prepare for space launch

By Nosmot Gbadamosi, CNN

Updated 1316 GMT (2116 HKT) December 13, 2018
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In March 2019, South Africa will launch the continent's first private satellite into space. It's been designed by school girls, within a STEM program. Pictured: Ayesha Salie, Sesam Mngqengqiswa, and Bhanekazi Tandwa on a learning boot camp with fellow teammates in Worcester, Western Cape Province, South Africa. Courtesy Karl Schoemaker
"Our first pilot will be to monitor crops," says 17-year-old Brittany Bull. "Where our food is growing, where we can plant more trees and vegetation and also how we can monitor remote areas." Pictured: Bull engages with her team mates during the design stage in Cape Town, South Africa. Courtesy Karl Schoemaker
"We expect to get a good signal which will allow us to receive reliable data and be able to make future decisions on what we need to do to prevent these things [drought]," said Sesam Mngqengqiswa, aged 16. It's part of a project by South Africa's Meta Economic Development Organization. Pictured: The girls perform altitude tests using helium balloons in Cape Town, South Africa. Courtesy Karl Schoemaker
"In South Africa we have experienced some of the worst floods and droughts and it has really affected the farmers very badly," adds Mngqengqiswa. Pictured: Mngqengqiswa observes the data coming in from her weather satellite. Courtesy Karl Schoemaker
In this photo initial trials involved the girls programming and launching small CricketSat satellites using high-altitude weather balloons, before eventually helping to configure the satellite payloads.
Courtesy Karl Schoemaker
In this photo Dr. Benjamin Malphrus from Morehead State University (Kentucky, USA) and Siphelele Mzongwana, a student from Manyano High School, receiving and analyzing data from a cricket satellite. It had been launched using a helium weather balloon in Worcester, Western Cape Province, South Africa. Courtesy Karl Schoemaker
Information received twice a day will go towards disaster prevention. "We can try to stop it from happening from the data that we collect -- we can form responses," Bull says. Pictured here: Girls study launch procedure during a boot camp session in Cape Town, South Africa. Courtesy Karl Schoemaker