Meet Dr Nana Browne and 4 other incredible women shaping the future of African space exploration

Meet Dr Nana Browne and 4 other incredible women shaping the future of African space exploration

- It has been six decades since the first human explored space, but Africa is yet to send an African-born astronaut to space

- The good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel

- YEN.com.gh celebrates the names of five African women at the helm of some of these programs

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It has been 64 years since October 4, 1957, when humans first explored space through the Russian-built satellite Sputnik.

5 Incredible Women Who Are Shaping the Future of African Space Exploration
Photo credits: Susan Murabana.
Source: Facebook

Despite the six decades of humans pushing limits, Africa is yet to send an African-born astronaut to space, but most countries on the continent continue to bolster programs towards achieving that milestone.

It is estimated that a combined figure of more than $7 billion (approximately KSh 710 billion) has been sunk into space programs by Nigeria, Angola, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Rwanda.

The names of five African-born women are conspicuous in these programs for their leadership roles in the growing venture.

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Abimbola Alale - Nigeria

Abimbola Alale has been at the helm of the Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT) since her appointment by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in February 2014.

5 Incredible Women Who Are Shaping the Future of African Space Exploration
Photo credits: Abimbo Alale.
Source: Facebook

Before ascending to the position of Chief Executive Officer, Alale had held the Executive Director of Marketing at the company since it was founded in 2006.

She holds a degree in Space Studies and as well as a Masters from the International Space University in Strasbourg, France.

Jessie Ndaba - South Africa

Jessie Ndaba is a South African space engineer who teamed up with Khalid Manjoo to start an astronomy startup called Astrofica.

5 Incredible Women Who Are Shaping the Future of African Space Exploration
Photo credits: Space in Africa.
Source: UGC

The tech company deals in designing, assembling, and testing satellite systems.

Ndaba's fascination with space exploration began in her childhood when her grandmother gifted her with a textbook that had an image of a rocket engine.

According to her, lack of information on space exploration is the reason the field has fewer women as many who excel in Maths and Science prefer medicine.

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"Females by nature are nurturers and are peaceful, therefore they would go for professions that afford them a platform to directly help or have a positive impact on people’s lives," she told Space in Africa.

Ruvimbo Samanga - Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's Ruvimbo Samanga studied Law and got so good at it that she once trained a team of students who went ahead to win the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court competition.

5 Incredible Women Who Are Shaping the Future of African Space Exploration
Photo credits: Rivumbo Samanga.
Source: Facebook

The feat took her down memory lane to her childhood when she became interested in the extra-terrestrial world.

Combining Law and Science, Samanga soon took a new direction in life that ended up with her becoming a space law and policy adviser.

She soon launched AgriSpace, an agribusiness company that helps farmers get the best out of their crops.

"I realized there was a technological gap as farmers are using archaic and traditional methods. To bridge that gap, we use satellite imagery and data to give farmers the necessary information they need to know when to plant, how to plant, what to plant, and where to plant," she told CNN.

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Her dream has now metamorphosed into something she never imagined possible, a position she uses to inspire the next generation of African women interested in space exploration.

"I dream for a world where girls do not have to question themselves and are not questioned. My dream is to see more African youth, especially young girls, in the African space industry," she said.

Susan Murabana - Kenya

Susan Murabana co-owns the Traveling Telescope, a startup that makes it easy for young scientists to understand space through the help of a telescope.

5 Incredible Women Who Are Shaping the Future of African Space Exploration
Photo credits: Susan Murabana.
Source: Facebook

The Traveling Telescope has since made it possible for children and adults alike to create new constellations as they explore the world beyond the human eye through the telescope.

“The telescope was invented more than 400 years ago, but most people have never looked through one," she told APS Physics.

Susan holds a degree in Economics from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and an MBA in Astronomy from the James Cook University.

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Dr Nana Browne Kluste - Ghana

Nana Browne Kluste is a Research Scientist and manager at the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute.

5 Incredible Women Who Are Shaping the Future of African Space Exploration
Photo credits: Nana Browne Kluste.
Source: UGC

She holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Cape Town, specializing in climatology.

Nana boasts illustrious experience with various applications in space technology, critical knowledge that she uses to coordinate astronomy outreach missions at the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute.

She also manages Ghanasat Limited, an institution that develops satellite applications in Ghana.

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