General, Research, Technology

Zambia's space program: from walking on your hands to conquering space

In the "space race" of the 1950s and 60sthere were two major players - the United States and the Soviet Union. But there were also other, minor players. Take, for example, the Zambian Space Program, founded and operated by just one person. A Time magazine article published in November 1964, when the Republic of Zambia was only a week old, described Edward Makuka Nkoloso as "a primary school science teacher and director of the National Academy of Sciences, Space Research and Philosophy of Zambia." Nkoloso had a plan to "get ahead of the US and the Soviet Union on the moon" and began training twelve Zambian Afronauts, including a 17-year-old girl, spinning them around a tree in an oil barrel and making them walk on their hands ... This, according to Nkoloso, was "the only way people can walk on the moon." In this article, you will learn how the African space program came about and what is happening to it today.

In the early 1960s, Edward Makuka Nkoloso decided to assemble the first African crew to go to the moon.

Zambia space program

WWII veteran and fighter forindependence Edward Makuka Nkoloso was born in 1919 in North Roandia. After receiving a missionary education, during the service, Nkoloso became interested in science and returned home to open the school, but soon the British authorities decided to close it. As a result, the future founder of the Zambian space program joined the anti-colonial movement, for which he was arrested and spent a year in prison. Three years after his liberation, in 1960, Nkoloso founded the "National Academy of Sciences, Space Research and Philosophy of Zambia."

Perhaps it was the imprisonment that brought abouthis idea of ​​space travel and Nkoloso decided to assemble the first African crew, which will go to the Moon and Mars. The main goal of his program, of course, was to win the space race. The Zambian independence fighter wanted to send a 17-year-old girl named Mata Mwambwa and two cats into space on a copper and aluminum rocket. The participants in the program were called "Afronauts" by Edward Nkoloso.

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Rocket Nkoloso called a barrel made of aluminum and copperthe size of 10x6 feet, which was not much different from those "rockets" that stood on the playgrounds in every Soviet kindergarten. This miracle of technology was called "D Kalu-1" - after a friend of Nkoloso named Kenneth David Kaunda; in 1964 he took over as president of sovereign Zambia.

This is what the training of afronauts under the command of Nkoloso looked like.

Some believe that Nkoloso experienced severepsychological trauma due to torture while in the hands of the Northern Rhodesian police, which explains his eccentric behavior. Others described him as a kind of national court jester, believing that Africans were making fun of the multi-billion dollar space race.

But whatever the goals of Nkoloso, the Zambian space program has received a lot of attention, thanks in large part to documentary footage of the training of future afronauts.

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It is also interesting that the idea of ​​creating a presentThe African Space Agency has existed since 2012. Three years later, Egypt showed great interest in it and even offered to locate its headquarters. The official opening date is set for 2023, but there has been no news about this unique event for a long time. Do you think Africa will be able to create its own space agency?