Senior Shimhanda, the Regional Coordinator for the African Region, has passed the entrance examination of Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) to enrol in the Space Engineering International Course (SEIC). SEIC was launched in April of 2013 for aspiring students and engineers with a passion for space or the desire to return skills and technology to their home country. Shimhanda will study in the Department of Mechanical and Control Engineering under the supervision of Prof Mengu Cho toward a postgraduate degree. Prof Cho is the Principal Investigator of the Joint Global Multi Nation Birds – BIRDS project and also the Director of the Laboratory of Spacecraft Environment Interaction Engineering (LaSEINE). LaSEINE is dedicated to R&D on spacecraft charging, hypervelocity impact, material degradation, and on a wide variety of nanosatellite testing.
The BIRDS Project
Shimhanda’s motivation to enrol in SEIC is the burning fact that his motherland is a non-spacefaring nation. Namibia has neither a space agency nor a space programme in place at both educational and national level. Hence, he’s angling for Namibia to join the BIRDS project in 2020, a cross-border interdisciplinary satellite project for non-spacefaring countries supported by Japan.
During the 2-year project, three Namibian students shall design, develop, and operate the first 1U Namibian CubeSat (1kg, 10 cubic cm). Shimhanda has secured funding from the African Business Education (ABE) Initiative, so it’s now up to the Namibian Government to fund the other candidates to enrol as Master or Doctoral degree students to build the NamSAT. The BIRDS project hopes to provide participants from developing nations with hands-on satellite development skills and capacity development in space engineering, mirroring the objectives of the Namibia Institute of Space Technology (NIST).
Upon completion, graduates will return to Namibia to replicate the satellite development process and domesticate nanosatellite technology.