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Inspiring Female Pioneers Shaping the Future of Space Exploration across Africa and Beyond

When South African space engineer Jessie Ndaba and company co-founder Khalid Manjoo named their satellite startup, the choice was easy: Astrofica — a hybrid of “astronomy” and “Africa” — seemed like the perfect fit. The fully Black-owned satellite tech company, based in Cape Town, specializes in assembling, manufacturing and testing satellite systems — a lucrative focus of the African space industry. Adriana Marais has set her sights on Mars, in 2015, the South African physicist came a step closer to realizing her dream when she was shortlisted as one of 100 astronaut candidates for the Mars One Project, a private venture to build a permanent settlement on the red planet. Growing up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Ruvimbo Samanga first became interested in space as a young girl. In 2018, she coached a team of law students that made history by becoming the first African entrants to win the prestigious, international Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court competition. That’s when Samanga realized she could combine her two passions into one career — and became a space law and policy adviser.