Africa’s first private space satellite will be launched in May 2017, thanks to 14 girls from South Africa. They have designed and constructed payloads for a satellite that will collect agriculture information across the continent, helping African countries better prepare for natural disasters and food shortages.
The satellite launch is part of a project headed by South Africa’s Meta Economic Development Organization (MEDO) in collaboration with Morehead State University in the U.S. The girls are being trained by engineers from Cape Peninsula University of Technology in the hope of encouraging more African women to get involved in STEM fields. No black African has ever journeyed into space, and many of the girls participating in the MEDO project hope to be the first.
“Discovering space and seeing the Earth’s atmosphere, it’s not something many black Africans have been able to do, or do not get the opportunity to look at,” 16-year-old Sesam Mngqengqiswa told CNN. “I want to see these things for myself. I want to be able to experience these things.”