“Consider working in Space” – Rania

The Africa Space Webinar was a 2-day workshop organised by the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), LearnSPACE Foundation, Humbite, and Space STEM Education Initiative (SSEIA). The webinar is on educating Africans on the benefits of space technology to the African continent and encouraging them to consider careers in the Space sector.

There were four panellists on the first day of the webinar. The program started at 4:02 pm WAT, with the introduction of the panellists which was done by Peter Salvation and Anne. Nelly-Hellen and Anne then moderated the program.

The welcome address was given by Rania, a system and verification engineer in Space Systems, who expressed her happiness to be part of the program. She encouraged participants to “consider working in Space because there are several expertise and capacities in the Space Sector”.

Marco Romero who was the host of the webinar introduced and welcomed the first presenter of the day, Dr James Chibueze; who is an astronomer with great interest in developing human capacities for Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics. He gave an explicit presentation on the difference between natural and applied science, stars, galaxy, milky way, and most importantly, career opportunities in Astronomy which involves data scientists, researchers, among others. 

Peter Salvation, a data scientist, python expert, a science and tech advocate and the founder of Space STEM Educational Initiative for Africa (SSEIA) gave a presentation on “Why Space?” This presentation session was on the advantages and disadvantages of space and conclusively encouraged the participants to get involved in the Space Field.

Up next, was Mohammed Saibu, a flight control officer in the Mission Control Centre (MCC). He works on the operations of NASA’s future vehicles and the International Space Station. His background and first contact with space were an eye-opener for all. Speaking extensively on the spaceflight disparities between Russia, USA, China, and Africa gave the participants an insight into the necessity of participating in space and contributing to the development of Space in Africa.

The last presenter of the day was Ahmed Baraka, a clinical pharmacist and a space enthusiast. His presentation focuses on the effect of space on the vestibular system, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system of the body and the impact of radiation too. He focuses on the interdependence between space and medicine. Most importantly, he listed careers that are possible in the Space medicine field, which involved; Research, Flight Surgeon, Space medicine as a speciality, and Astropharmacy.

There was always a question and answer session at the end of each presentation. At the end of the sessions, Nelly Hellen appreciated the participants and gave a brief insight into what the next day entailed.

On the second day of the webinar, Nelly Hellen introduced all the five presenters of the day by taking the participants through their detailed profiles.

Miss Chidinma Joy Iroka, a Chief Engineer in the Engineering and Space System Division   (ESS)   of the   National   Space   Research and   Development   Agency (NASRDA), spoke about the life of a Space Engineer, its requirements, subsectors and benefits. “Degree in engineering disciplines such as Aerospace, Automotive, Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Computer, Electrical, Mechanical engineering, etc., can qualify one to be a space engineer”, Miss Joy mentioned during her presentation. 

Eldrige De Melo, a certified ground controller by the Russian Space Agency and an Aerospace Project Manager, gave a detailed presentation on Space Project Management, what it entails and all the participants need to know. He described the job of a Space Project Manager using NASA as an example. According to him, the position of a Space Project Manager which in case of NASA, is the coordination of multiple stakeholders and long term planning in terms of engineering, science and space missions. Afterwards, he delivered a contrast between the traditional space and New Space using a case study. 

Ms Fadahunsi-banjo Motolani, Chief Legal Officer, National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) followed. She explained Space Law, its essence, careers in space and educational opportunities therein. She said that Space Law encompasses international space registration, outer space treaties, policies and national space legislation. “Legal Officers in Africa space industries help the industry not to breach existing international legislation, ensure adequate representation of Africa, monitor and supervise national policies and registration,” Ms Fadahunsi said during her presentation.

“Careers in Space Law are found in government-owned companies, space agencies, laboratories, an intergovernmental organisation like African Union, United Nations, ESA, Non-governmental organisations like secure word foundation, private companies like Space X, virgin galactic and academia”. She mentioned conclusively.

Ms   Majaja,   a   government official with experience in both academia and government, talked about government functions in policy development areas and academia. Her presentation overlapped with Ms Motolani presentations but then moved on to explain various government functions in the different Space sectors.

In conclusion, Marco Romero, an Aeronautical engineer, founder and a satellite operator at Angola mission control centre, gave an exciting presentation on Space Education and Outreach. With projects, idea and resources, he revealed how they got to where they are now and how they are progressing towards “Space Education for All”. “Space education can inspire, motivate future generation and help them understand STEM in a fun way” Marco emphasised.

At the end of the 2-day webinar, participants expressed their joy in being part of the webinar. Links were shared for the participants to record their feedback, after which they will receive certificates.