The first African Space Shuttle is being built in the backyard (Credits: African Space Research Program).

The African Space Research Program is not your typical space program. Founder Chris Nsamba is currently building the agency’s first spacecraft in his mother’s backyard in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. The glider-like space jet, called the African Skyhawk, will, according to Nsamba, be able to reach the Earth’s outer atmosphere.

Nsamba, a 26 years old amateur aeronautical engineer, plans to test the spacecraft next year. “Within five years we will have launched a probe into space and within a decade we will put a man in space,” he says.

Ugandan volunteers working on the African Space Program Project (Credits:

For such a poor country as Uganda, embarking on an ambitious space program might seem to be a dubious use of resources. But Nsamba believes that ambition and effort is exactly what the country needs. Ugandan veteran President Yoweri Museveni is a supporter of the space program. Museyeni’s private secretary, Richard Tushemereirwe, commented that even though he doesn’t think the country can complete with China or any other emerging space power, it can still make a contribution. “People interested in scientific research will always do their things irrespective of the health of the economy and any turmoil happening around them,” he said.

600 hundred enthusiasts have invested their time or donated money to turn the Ugandan space dream into reality. In just 22 months 80 000 USD have been invested in developing the spacecraft. Despite the fact that it still lacks an engine and that Uganda doesn’t have any trained astronauts, Nsamba and his supporters remain optimistic. Copenhagen Suborbitals could serve as inspiration in this regards. Similarly a homemade enterprise, Copenhagen Suborbitals aims to launch people to space, and has conducted several successful tests to date.

The video below shows the future African Space Shuttle

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