Meet The African Recipients Of The 2019 Emerging Space Leaders Grant Award

Meet The African Recipients Of The 2019 Emerging Space Leaders Grant Award

In October 2008 the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) approved a new initiative to actively engage, inspire and support the next generation of students and young professionals to prepare them to be the future leaders of the international space community. As part of this initiative, the IAF began a new programme to provide grants that enable students and young space professionals to participate in IAF activities, in particular, the International Astronautical Congress (IAC).

In 2014, IAF signed an agreement with HE Space Children’s Foundation (HESCF), a Dutch non-profit Organisation, which financially supports the ESL Programme by funding two additional students to attend the IAC.

Since 2017, the Emerging Space Leaders Grant Programme (ESL Grants) enables 25 students and young professionals between the ages of 21 and 35 to participate in the IAC, as well as in the UN/IAF Workshop and the Space Generation Congress, both held the week prior to the Congress.

This year, 25 students and young professionals have been chosen by the IAF Emerging Space Leaders Sub-Committee composed of nine highly experienced space stakeholders. They will travel to Washington D.C. in October 2019 to participate in the IAC and have the opportunity to extend their network, gain knowledge and meet space experts.

Of the 25 selected people, 5 are of African descent. They include Ana-Mia Louw (South Africa), Femi Ishola (Nigeria), Hansley Noruthun (Mauritius), Mpho Tshisaphungo (South Africa) and Yasir Abbas (Sudan).

Ana-Mia Louw obtained a bachelor’s degree in Mechatronic Engineering at the University of Stellenbosch in 2014. After graduation, she immediately joined the Simera team as an optical designer. Her passion for management and optics led to her spearheading Simera Sense, Simera Group’s product development company for imaging systems, focusing on earth observation payloads for small satellites with the xScape range of payloads. Since the start of 2018, she has been managing Simera Sense, and currently has 12 engineers working under her. She recently completed a financial management course at the University of Stellenbosch Business school. Before embarking the current development of nano-satellites in Simera Sense, Ana-Mia worked on three larger earth observation satellite payloads that were launched in 2018.


Femi IsholaFemi Ishola is a doctoral research assistant at the Laboratory of Spacecraft Environment and Interaction Engineering (LaSEINE), Kyushu Institute of Technology (KYUTECH), Japan. He is an accredited professional engineer and researcher at the National Space Research and Development Agency, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Nigeria. At the Space Agency’s Centre for Space Transport and Propulsion, he was the pioneer and project manager of the Ground Control Station with interconnected Sounding-Rocket Avionics System. Femi is also an alumnus of the International Space University (ISU) Masters Programme, Strasbourg, France.


Hansley NoruthunHansley Noruthun is a bio-scientist, elected associate of King’s College and alumnus of London South Bank University and International Space University. He is currently the National Point of Contact (NPoC) for the Republic of Mauritius for the Space Generation Advisory Council in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications. He was awarded the U.K Space Agency and European Space Agency scholarship to complete the Space Studies Program 2015 hosted by NASA Glenn Research Centre. His portfolio includes projects such as an astronaut training programme, commercial airline travel study, BBC Stargazing partner, and several global outreaches and awareness programmes like the recent African Space Generation Workshop 2018 – Launching Africa: Space Exploration, Innovation and Business.

Mpho TshisaphungoMpho Tshisaphungo is currently a space weather practitioner at the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). She is responsible for coordinating and managing the Space Weather Centre as well as ensuring that the space weather services reach the end users. Her role includes monitoring and analysing space weather events and preparing space weather forecasts, warnings and alerts for government and private industry users. She has made presentations about the space weather activities and research projects that SANSA is involved in, at different international workshops and conferences such as European Space Weather Week (ESWW), European Geophysical Union (EGU), International Reference Ionosphere (IRI) workshop, International Heliospheric Year (IHY), and the South African Institute of Physics (SAIP).


Yasir AbbasYasir Abbas is a space systems engineer pursuing a PhD in the Kyushu Institute of Technology (KYUTECH) and doing research in the embedded system laboratory in the university. He’s got an M.Sc. in aerospace engineering from Istanbul Technical University (ITU), Turkey. Yasir has been a research engineer at the University of Khartoum. He worked with the Sudanese National Committee for Space (SUNACS) and with Ceres Space Technology Center (CSTC). He was a co-founder of the first Sudanese CubeSat project, a project that was the first step to establish several research centres and small satellite projects in Sudan. He is now a member of the Japanese team in the BIRDS4 CubeSat multinational project carried out by KYUTECH.

Congratulations are in order for these ambassadors of the continent, and it is hoped that they keep soaring in their individual endeavours as they navigate the space industry.

View the full list here and learn more about the Emerging Space Leaders Award.


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