Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Ugandan Space Program

Slashdot informs me today that a small group of Ugandans have an impressive dream: They intend to create their own space program with no help from the Ugandan government, and using only the local resources.
This is a big deal because Uganda is not the wealthiest country on earth, and so far space exploration has been the domain of large nations doing this for billion dollar science grants and military-industrial-complex testing of rocketry and other technology. Uganda has pretty much none of those things. At the moment, the team are designing airplanes, but they intend to move upwards as they gain more capability. (None of the team are professional engineers.)
Ideally, discoveries that this team makes will make space travel an order of magnitude less expensive, and thus more available to more people.


arkee_titan said...

When they have gone to the Moon and back they can deal with malaria, corruption and malnutrition. I like the ambition especially when you are not hampered by qualifications and knowledge.

Professor Preposterous said...

I'm more impressed by the ambitions involved than the results. The results so far are a plane design that even a freshman American aerospace engineer could have trumped. Still, have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run.
Malaria is an obstacle that could also be crushed with the right kind of thinking. You could immunize everyone in the country. You could kill the mosquitoes that are its primary vector. You could come up with a medical treatment such as quinine so that people recover from malaria in short order. All of this could be done with trial and error, knowledge would just maximize your chances of success. (A definite good thing!)
Corruption and malnutrition are unfortunate political problems. They can't be engineered away, but will only cease to exist when all of the people refuse to tolerate them anymore. It's a taller order than it sounds -- corruption runs rampant here in America, (and I'm sure in other countries too, I'm not present there to have a factual opinion on the state of being in other countries) and there are a few marginalized and malnourished people here and there.
Better to want to improve the world and try to build your knowledge than to throw up your hands, say to hell with it, and go wait for death to come while you twiddle your thumbs.

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