By Moses Mulondo
The Uganda government has promised to support efforts of a group of Ugandans who are developing technology to launch the first space observer on the African continent.
While being briefed inside Lugogo Indoor Stadium about how the technology will work, the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi expressed excitement about the efforts.
“Our government is committed to promoting science and technology. I am very impressed by your efforts. As government we shall do whatever it takes to support this project,” Mbabazi said.
He promised the team, African Space Research Program (ASRP), led by Chris Nsamba, that government would request the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to bring in experts from other parts of the world to help the group successfully implement the project.
“I cannot make an accurate assessment but what you have demonstrated is impressive. That is how all other countries started.”
Explaining that research and development takes over 40% of the national budgets of developed countries, Mbabazi said government would allocate more resources for the same purpose.
Encouraging the team to continue looking for more scientific knowledge, Mbabazi said, “This is the way to go. Societies that are more developed have been to the moon and now going to Mars. But here we are fighting about our religions and tribes, which is not helpful.”
Capt. Chris Nsamba, head of the ASRP project, explains to PM Amama Mbabazi how the finished Cadimella Space Obersver rocket/thruster operates. PHOTO/Godfrey Kimono
Following a string of successful manned expeditions into space by developed nations – particularly to the moon – vertical elevation is yet again being pushed to its limits with a planned first ever manned trip to Mars.
The foundation organizing the 501-day Mars mission is looking for a man and woman, preferably a married couple, according to international news agencies.
If successful, the maiden journey will undoubtedly dwarf Uganda’s current ambitions of sending its first ever space observer into vertical space, several decades after a realistic expression of outer space travel was realized.
But that achievement will not stand in the way of the East African nation's current vertical elevation sights.
With only a handful of developed countries with successful outer space missions to boast with, the idea of gathering space exploration interests remains a distant reality in the eyes and minds of many locals.
But even the most advanced of countries in the world of technology started small, some Ugandan enthusiasts have argued.
And PM Mbabazi believes incorporating some substantial military experience will be key for the local mission.
Arguing that most scientific innovations emanate from military expeditions, Mbabazi promised to ensure that the request of the group to be incorporated into Uganda’s air force is granted.
No African country has sent people into orbit. But the West African countries of Nigeria and Ghana have stepped a notch higher than yet any other on the continent.
The two countries are utilizing the technology they have developed from their space agencies to help people on the ground.
International media have indicated that Nigeria founded its National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in 1999.
It is said to have launched its first satellite in 2003.
More importantly, the benefits of space technology are taught in Ghanaian schools in a bid to catch up in Africa’s space race.
Uganda, on its part, has already expressed its desire to follow suit, although the development has inspired divided opinion in the public domain.
While some people have come out clearly against the plan, arguing that focus should instead be directed to other critical sectors of governments, others have hailed to move.
Calling it the first attempt on the African continent, Nsamba said after sending a rat and a monkey in their observation device (Cadimella), they would embark on building a space security observing object for the country’s army, the UPDF.
He said they have already built necessary equipment to send their object in the space and are only waiting for government’s clearance to officially launch the space project.
He explained that their technology works using a thruster – rockery – and a helium balloon to cast Cadimella into space which they keep monitoring and controlling on their computers from their operation centre.
Nsamba showed videos of some of the successful attempts they made in sending their object into space.
They demonstrated the satellite technology they can use to track Cadimella wherever it may have landed, including removing it from underwater.
After they have sent a rat and then a monkey to and from space, Nsamba said, they would embark on constructing a device which will carry a human being into the space.
ASRP chairman David Nambobi said they also successfully built an aircraft in August last year but lacked adequate funding to buy sophisticated equipment to enable it fly in the space.
“We have the technology of making our own aircraft. We only need adequate funding to successfully complete this project. It is unfortunate that Africans still have the mentality that we cannot manage such advance technology,” he said.
This project was first toured by the Vice-President, Edward Ssekandi, who inspected the launch pad of the space observer at Kimaka Airfield in Jinja in early February this year and he promised to ensure that government supports the project.
ASRP treasurer Lawrence Okello said they have so far privately injected USD 9,830 (about sh25m) in the project, raised from various individuals and need more USD15,000 (about sh40m) to complete the first phase of the project.