Teenage girls to launch Africa’s first private space satellite

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Updated 1812 GMT (0212 HKT) March 16, 2017

In May 2017, 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.

(CNN)They may be teenagers, but 17-year-old Brittany Bull and 16-year-old Sesam Mngqengqiswa have grand ambitions — to launch Africa’s first private satellite into space.

They are part of a team of high school girls from Cape Town, South Africa, who have designed and built payloads for a satellite that will orbit over the earth’s poles scanning Africa’s surface. Once in space, the satellite will collect information on agriculture, and food security within the continent.
Using the data transmitted, “we can try to determine and predict the problems Africa will be facing in the future”, explains Bull, a student at Pelican Park High School.
South Africa's program aims to encourage girls into STEM, particularly astronomy. Less than 10% of young women are interested in STEM subjects.

“Where our food is growing, where we can plant more trees and vegetation and also how we can monitor remote areas,” she says. “We have a lot of forest fires and floods but we don’t always get out there in time.”
Information received twice a day will go towards disaster prevention.
It’s part of a project by South Africa’s Meta Economic Development Organization (MEDO) working with Morehead State University in the US.