Together to the stars: how Russia and Africa are developing cooperation in space exploration


Space exploration has become one of the central milestones of the 20th century. Over the previous century, people have created all the conditions for the unattainable spaces of the Universe to become closer.

However, the main race in the battle for infinity left an entire continent on the periphery. African countries have not been involved in this process for a long time. But over the past decades, the situation has changed dramatically.

International edition Federal News Agency tells how the Russian-African space program is developing and what prospects Moscow sees in this sector.

Into space on a barrel

The first African space program was led by a real “Zambian Tsiolkovsky” – Edward Makuka Nkoloso, a member of the popular liberation movement in Rhodesia, who founded and headed the National Academy of Sciences in 1960. Subsequently, she began to master infinity.

Nkoloso trained the first team of volunteers in an extremely interesting way. Future “afronauts” were subjected to overloads, lowering them in barrels from steep slopes.

Then the construction of the first apparatus for conquering space began, which was a large pedestal, sent into the airspace with the help of a powerful catapult. However, Zambia’s program was never implemented – the laws of physics did not allow the “rocket” to overcome gravity.

Reaching for the stars

The somewhat comical episode with Edward Nkoloso inspired other dreamers in Africa. In the 1990s, the first real space programs appeared in a number of countries on the Black Continent. True, all of them, one way or another, developed with the direct participation of third states.

Formally, the first African satellite went into orbit commissioned by Egypt in 1998. But both the satellite itself and its launch were carried out on the basis of the European Space Agency.

Another example is the South African program. In 1999, scientists from Stellenbosch University launched into space a self-assembled apparatus, which worked for about two years and seriously enriched their observatory with knowledge.

Over time, the situation with the conquest of space has changed for the better. Today in Africa there are a number of states that have their own satellites, which are used in scientific interests.

Russia will help Africa go into space

The main partner in the industry for Africa is Russia. Almost no other country in the world has such a colossal experience as domestic experts in this field.

There are already episodes of cooperation in the exploration of infinity. First African citizen to travel into space Mark Shuttleworthcarried out a flight on a Russian spacecraft.

Progress CM-11 Johnson/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Progress CM-11 Johnson/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 2002, he went into space as a “tourist”, paying about $20 million for his flight. Around the same time, Russia and South Africa signed a number of agreements on cooperation in the field of exploration of the Universe.

However, the complex interaction in the conquest of space has only recently been discussed. At the first Russia-Africa Summit held in October 2019, the participants signed declarationone of the points of which was scientific and technical cooperation in the field of the use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

The parties returned to a more targeted discussion of the partnership in May 2022. Development of the Russian-Angolan programs Russian Ambassador Vladimir Tararov confirmed. He said that the initiative will encourage other African countries to cooperate with Moscow in this area:

“Of course, our cooperation with Angola and the launch of the satellite will set a precedent. Now many states are looking at it and deciding for themselves how they can develop in this area.”


Moscow and Luanda are fruitfully cooperating in the conquest of space. Since 2018, domestic enterprises have been preparing for the release of another Angolan satellite, AngoSat-2, to replace the first one that failed.

Cooperation between Russia and African countries in the field of research is built not only on bilateral platforms. At the end of May 2022, the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. — Ed.) agreed on the mutual exchange of information and technologies in the field of space exploration. This should be another good opportunity for Roscosmos to cooperate with its African counterparts, in particular with the South African Space Agency.

To infinity and beyond

The direct role of Russia allowed expanding the list of participants in the peaceful exploration of outer space by connecting Africa to the process, and opened up new markets for domestic technologies.


Already, a number of Western space agencies are looking at Moscow’s activity with great apprehension due to high competition. In turn, the Russian side is ready to provide its existing developments and specialists as a basis for future projects of African countries’ flight programs. This will allow the Black Continent to solve many problems on the way to the stars.

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