Promoting Space Science: Astrophysics Club, K.N.U.S.T and the Ghana CanSAT Rocketry Championship (G.C.R.C)

GCRC Launch

Jemimah Enyonam Kwakuyi

2nd May 2022

The Astrophysics Club of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (K.N.U.S.T) Kumasi, seeks to promote the study of Astronomy and Space in Ghana/Africa.

This Club was formed in 2013 by Esther Lamptey (then a 3rd year Physics student and Space enthusiast) with help from the Ghana Planetarium Science Centre. Currently, the club is made up of about 80 students, including old students. Most of these students are Physics students with others from the University’s college of Science and Engineering among other colleges.

The Club organizes weekly meetings with its members usually on talks about key Astronomy and Space science themes. Also, the club is involved in Space-oriented events and projects such as the NameExoWorld Ghana Project (2019), Asteroid Day celebration (2021), Everything Astronomy Free Monthly Online Sessions (2022), Asteroid Search Campaign (2022), Ghana CanSAT Rocketry Championship (2021/22) among others. Most of these events have been supported by the Ghana Planetarium Science Centre and the young Ghanaian Space start-up Xavier Space Solutions.

At the moment, members of the Astrophysics Club are involved in the first ever student-satellite design and build competition in Ghana: the Ghana CanSat Rocketry Championship.

GCRC Launch

Ghana CanSat/Rocketry Championship (GCRC) is a competition set-up by the Committee for Space Programme Development (CSPD) and under the World CanSat/Rocketry Championship (WCRC), an organization in Serbia with collaboration in Europe, Africa among others. The World CanSat/Rocketry Championship is generally an international competition open to elite competitors from around the world, representing their nations (as university student teams or as independent student teams), and winning this event will be considered the highest or near highest achievement in this field.

G.C.R.C is being led by Xavier Space Solutions; founded in 2019 with the mission: help Space enthusiasts and students to get access to services and logistics that will make exploring the Space easy and enjoyable. Xavier Space Solutions is working in partnership with the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), Ghana, Academic City University College, Erictronics, K.N.U.S.T Innovation Centre among others on this competition.

A CanSat is a simulation of a real satellite, integrated within the volume and shape of a soft drink can. The challenge for the students is to fit all the major subsystems found in a satellite, such as power, sensors and a communication system, into this minimal volume. The CanSat is then launched by a rocket, or dropped from a platform, drone or captive balloon. While it’s up in the low Earth Orbit, it collects data, and after achieving a safe landing the students analyze the data collected.

Already, members of the club have been involved in several workshops by G.C.R.C on building their experimental satellites including; designing a 3D version of CanSAT's (October, 2021), an electronics workshop on CanSAT’s (15 - 17th December, 2021), workshop on Designing CanSATs (February, 2022). In June 2022, members will be involved in an in-person CanSAT hands-on workshop (working with a CanSAT model designed by Erictronics (a Ghanaian Electronics company) and Xavier Space Solutions). To finish the competition, members will take part in the Ghana CanSAT Rocketry Championship national campaign (25th June, 2022), where members will showcase and launch their experimental satellites with the hope of winning the campaign and representing Ghana at the CanSAT World finals in Serbia, later this year.

GCRC Launch

We are excited that we are filling the gaps in Space science in Ghana (as there is no formal education in Astronomy in Ghana) and hope that our goal of a strong Astronomy and Space education program in Ghana will be realized soon.

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