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NamesBird GG
Mission typeTechnology demonstration
Earth observation
OperatorAll Nations University
SATCAT no.42821
Mission duration22 months, 14 days
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type1U CubeSat
Launch mass1 kg (2.2 lb)
Dimensions10 cm (4 in) cubed
Start of mission
Launch date3 June 2017, 21:07:38 (2017-06-03UTC21:07:38) UTC[1]
RocketFalcon 9 FT, CRS-11
Launch siteKennedy LC-39A
Entered service7 July 2017, 08:51 UTC
End of mission
Decay date22 May 2019[2]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Semi-major axis6,778.8 km (4,212.2 mi)
Perigee altitude397.8 km (247.2 mi)
Apogee altitude403.6 km (250.8 mi)
Period92.57 minutes
Epoch9 August 2017, 03:04:24 UTC[3]

GhanaSat-1 was the first Ghanaian satellite to be launched into space.[4] It was designed and built in two years in conjunction with the Kyushu Institute of Technology's Birds-1 program, which has the goal of helping countries build their first satellite.

The satellite can take images, collect atmospheric data, measure space radiation, and transmit uploaded audio. GhanaSat-1 was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on a Falcon 9 rocket. It was released into space from the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer on the ISS on 7 July 2017 and was used to monitor environmental activities along Ghana's coastline.


Japan supports non-spacefaring countries in building their first satellite through the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds satellite program, sponsored by Kyushu Institute of Technology (KIT), which is a cross-border interdisciplinary satellite project for non-spacefaring countries. Four guest countries participated in the Birds-1 program: Ghana, Mongolia, Nigeria, and Bangladesh. GhanaSat-1 was the first Ghanaian satellite launched into space.[5]

Design and development[edit]

GhanaSat-1 was assembled and tested by three students at All Nations University.[6] The five 1U CubeSats, four built by the guest countries and one by KIT, were all identical in their design.[7] The two-year period spanning the development, construction, launch and operation of the satellites engaged three university students from each of the five participating countries.[8] The satellite cost about US$500,000 to manufacture and launch.[9]

GhanaSat-1 was a small satellite, weighing around 1 kilogram (2.2 lb).[6] Power was generated from solar cells and stored in batteries.[5] The satellite was cube shaped and measured 10 centimetres (4 in) on each side.[10] The satellite carried low- and high-resolution cameras that took pictures of Ghana and monitored the country's coastline. The satellite had the ability to receive requested songs from the ground and transmit them from space;[6] the national anthem of Ghana was one of the songs broadcast in orbit. Finally, the satellite measured the effects of radiation in space on commercial microprocessors.[6]

GhanaSat-1 was given to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on 9 February 2017, and was then transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 12 February.[6] The GhanaSat-1 Birds designation is Birds-G.[11]



Fire erupts from the rockets engine as smoky rocket exhaust bounces off of the launch pad and smoky vapors trail down the side of the vehicle
SpaceX launch of CRS-11 with GhanaSat-1 onboard

SpaceX launched the satellite on its CRS-11 mission to the International Space Station on 3 June 2017. The satellite was carried in a Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket, launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center Pad 39A. This was the 100th launch from Pad 39A and the first time SpaceX reused one of its Dragon capsules.[1] This mission also carried CubeSats from Japan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Mongolia.[11] The satellites from Bangladesh (BRAC Onnesha) and Mongolia (Mazaalai) are those countries' first satellites.

Cubesats being launched from the Kibō module of the International Space Station

GhanaSat-1 was released by a Japanese astronaut from the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer, located in the Japanese Kibō module of the International Space Station, on 7 July 2017.[11] The satellite launch was broadcast live and watched by over 400 people at All Nations University.[4] The satellite orbited the Earth at an altitude of 400 kilometres (250 mi) and at an inclination of 51.6 degrees, completing an orbit around the planet every 92 minutes at a velocity of 7.67 kilometres per second (17,200 mph).[12][9]


The satellite was primarily a technology demonstrator and Earth observation satellite. The Ghana scientists took images of the Ghanaian coastline for cartography. The director of Space Systems Technology Laboratory at All Nations University, Richard Damoah, said the satellite would "...also help us train the upcoming generation on how to apply satellites in different activities around our region. For instance, [monitoring] illegal mining is one of the things we are looking to accomplish."[4] The satellite communicated with seven ground stations: one in each of the countries participating in the Birds-1 program, and one each in Thailand and Taiwan.[5]

Future work[edit]

The university plans to coordinate with the government to build GhanaSat-2 and GhanaSat-3. The primary objective of GhanaSat-2 is to monitor water pollution, illegal mining, and deforestation.[13][14] Japan's work with non-spacefaring countries continues with the Philippines, Bhutan, and Malaysia through Birds-2, launched in 2018 along with SpaceX CRS-15.[5]


  1. ^ a b Clark, Stephen (3 June 2017). "Reused Dragon cargo capsule launched on journey to space station". Spaceflight Now. Archived from the original on 4 June 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  2. ^ "BIRD GG". Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  3. ^ "Bird GG - Orbit". Heavens Above. 9 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Ghana launches its first satellite into space". BBC News. 7 July 2017. Archived from the original on 8 July 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d "Bird B, BTN, G, J, M, MYS, N, PHL (BRAC Onnesha, GhanaSat 1, Toki, Mazaalai, Nigeria EduSat 1)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e "GhanaSat 1: Ghana's First Space Satellite To Be Launched in Japan". 2 June 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Mongolia to send first satellite off to space on June 4". Xinhua. 2 June 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Mongolia to send its first satellite to space on June 4". The Indian Express. Indo-Asian News Service. 3 June 2017. Archived from the original on 22 June 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  9. ^ a b Babatunde, Mark (11 July 2017). "Ghanaian Engineers Launch Ghanasat-1, Join Space Race". Face2Face Africa. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Brac University says 'hi' to first nano-satellite". The Daily Star. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  11. ^ a b c "BIRDS-1 AMSAT-UK". Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  12. ^ "President Akufo-Addo congratulates All Nations University for Ghanasat-1 Satellite". Ghana News Agency. 7 July 2017. Archived from the original on 7 July 2017.
  13. ^ "Ghana to launch GhanaSat 2 & 3 - Satellite Technical Team". GhanaWeb. Archived from the original on 10 July 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  14. ^ Bright, Jake. "Africa has entered the space race, with Ghana's first satellite now orbiting earth". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 15 February 2018.

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