Space Launch Facts versus Afromania
by David Sims
NO AFRICAN country has ever launched anything into orbit around Earth. The only space launches from African soil were carried out by Italy (on land leased from the government of Kenya) and by Spain (on land leased from the government of Algeria), all of which occurred between 1960 and 1985. None of those launches were African space projects. All of those launches were European space projects, which happened to involve a land-lease from an African government.
The African press has an ugly habit of awarding African countries more credit for space achievements than they are actually due. They use dishonest wording in their article titles that might persuade their readers to assume that these satellites were launched on rockets built by Africans, when nothing of the kind is true. That’s why they omit all mention of the country by which the satellites were really launched.
Several African countries have legal ownership of one or more orbiting satellites. But they didn’t launch any of them. Instead, all of these African countries hired someone in a White country or in an Asian country to do the launching for them.
GhanaSat-1 was launched from the United States aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that carried out the CRS-11 mission to the International Space Station. It was not launched from anywhere in Africa.
South Africa’s SUNSAT was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, United States, aboard a ULA Delta 2 rocket, on 23 February 1999. It was not launched from anywhere in Africa.
South Africa’s ZACUBE-1 satellite was launched on a Russian Dnipr rocket, and the ZACUBE-2 was launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket. None of South Africa’s satellites were launched from anywhere in Africa.
Kenya’s 1KUNS-PF satellite was launched from the United States aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It was not launched from anywhere in Africa.
Nigeriasat-1 was launched from Russia aboard a Dnipr rocket on 27 September 2003. NigeriaSat-2 was launched into orbit from a military base in China. NigComSat-1 was launched on 13 May 2007, aboard a Chinese Long March 3B carrier rocket, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China — as was NigComSat-1R [yes, that’s its real name] in 2009. None of Nigeria’s satellites was launched from anywhere in Africa.
No African country has ever launched anything into space. That has never happened. Any news source or pundit who says otherwise is lying.
If I hire someone to build a house for me, I do not go around telling people that I am the house-builder.
If I hire someone to paint a painting for me, I do not go around telling people that I was the painter.
If I hire someone to write a song for me, I do not go around telling people that I am the composer.
If I hire someone to write a story book for me, I do not go around telling people that I am its author.
Saying such things is dishonest. To say such things is to tell lies.
Just because I own the house, the painting, or the copyright for the song or for the book does not mean that I am due the credit for creating them.
Likewise, if you were to say that Nigeria launched a satellite, you would be telling a lie. All of Africa’s satellites were launched from Russia, from China, or from the United States. And all satellites ever launched from Africa were designed, built, and launched by non-Africans.
These lies are an attempt by African leaders to assert that Africans have more technological prowess than they really do. It is an attempt by Africans to claim more intelligence than they really have. It is an attempt by Africans to say that they’re “just as good as everyone else,” whereas, in this respect, they are not.
I will repeat:
No African country has ever launched anything at all into space.
It has never happened.
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