To suggest a personality to profile, please contact us at:
Profile: Ghana's rocket man, Dr Ave Kludze,
Awe Kludze never imagined he
would command a Nasa spacecraft
On the 200th anniversary of
Charles Darwin's birth, BBC News asks one of
Africa's pioneering scientists, Dr Ave Kludze,
of the US space agency Nasa what inspired his
stellar career and what he thinks of the
standard of science teaching in Africa today.
As a young boy I was always very curious.
My parents didn't like to leave me at home
alone, because they knew I would dismantle the
Even at my friends' houses, I would try to take
the television apart, to find out how it worked.
I never imagined I would have the opportunity to
work for Nasa. Not with my background
Does Africa support science?
But my life changed the first time I went to the
airport in Accra. I saw an aeroplane landing and
I knew then that I wanted to be pilot.
From that day, everything I read was scientific.
At school, I read science subjects.
My father wanted me to be a lawyer. But he
supported my ambitions. So I was lucky.
But then, when I was 17, I found out that I
could not fulfil my dream. I could not become a
The reason was that my brother, my father and my
mother all wore glasses. This implied that, one
day, I would wear glasses too. And indeed I do.
I was very disappointed.
I decided to channel my energy elsewhere - into
I studied electrical engineering in the US, at
Rutgers University, New Jersey.
Launch of Calipso satellite
The Calipso satellite, developed with Dr
Kludze's help, launched in 2006
My intention was to return to Ghana, so I
started to focus my mind on using solar energy
to power appliances: Solar fridges, solar fans,
solar freezers - solar everything.
The sun is for free, so I believe we have to use
it in Africa. We have to work with the resources
But instead of working on solar panels in Ghana,
I got a job with Nasa, developing and flying
I never imagined I would have the opportunity to
work for Nasa. Not with my background.
I remember watching the Challenger incident -
when the shuttle disintegrated.
I visited the "American Centre", in Ghana, where
I watched the tragedy on the news. Afterwards I
wrote to Nasa and they replied to me.
They sent me pictures and documents on some of
their spacecraft and I put them on my wall.
I still have these pictures today.
AVE'S FLIGHT PATH
1966: Born in Hohoe, Ghana
1978: Attends Adisadel College, Cape Coast
1989: Studies electrical engineering at Rutgers
1995: Hired by Nasa
2004: Helps develop the Extravehicular Activity
Infrared (EVA IR) camera for space-walking
2006: Becomes technical adviser to Nasa Office
of the Inspector General
2006: Launch of the Calipso environmental
satellite, for which Dr Kludze was a systems
Now many years later, I have worked at Nasa
headquarters, in Washington, as a requirements
manager. I help Nasa to take strategic
President [George] Bush outlined his vision that
Nasa would go back to the Moon by 2020, so the
agency is working towards that.
I am working on the communication systems the
astronauts will use on the Moon, and on Mars.
They will send back pictures live. I have to
make sure we don't leave out any requirements.
Things have moved on a long way from Apollo.
I have flown several spacecraft - including the
But I was not in orbit - I flew them from the
ground, using robotic controls at the Nasa
People ask me: What has Nasa done for Africans?
But many of them have cell phones - which were
developed with Nasa technology.
The cars they drive and the glasses they wear -
all of these have benefited from Nasa
technology. It trickles down to the ordinary
Nasa is not only concerned with space. We
develop technologies for aeroplanes.
And our way of developing systems applies to all
kinds of engineering projects.
If you had a water project, for agriculture,
Nasa technology could make your project more
I think the younger generation in Ghana today
have more opportunities than I did to become
CALIPSO satellite, artist's impression
Dr Kludze has "flown" Calipso from a Nasa
I first saw a computer in the USA. Today, the
younger generation have access to the internet -
they can get any information they want.
The education I received in Ghana was very sound
- it served me remarkably well at Rutgers.
But where African schools have a problem, is
that they focus heavily on theory, whereas
[universities] focus on the practical - solving
real world problems.
If we can bring that practical element into
African schools, then we have a lot of brilliant
young minds who will benefit.
When I was growing up it was difficult for
science drop-outs and those students who were
unable to further their education.
There were few avenues for them to become useful
members of society using their acquired
scientific knowledge. They ended up doing other
But times have changed. In Ghana, I understand
they are encouraging pupils to pursue science.
But the question is: After you graduate, do you
have the necessary resources to go further?
When I grew up in Ghana, we ploughed the fields
using cattle and hoes.
The last time I went home, we were still using
them. So where are our engineers?
We need the governments to invest in technology.
Then the educational institutes can follow.
When I grew up, my scientific role models were
I admired people like Albert Einstein. I was
amazed that he could be on our planet and yet he
could tell us about different planets.
But today I know many successful African
scientists. People like my friend Dr Ohene
Frempong, of the Children's Hospital of
Pennsylvania (CHOP). He works on sickle cell
There are others who have done very well.
What are my remaining ambitions?
Well, I don't plan to go into space. I will
leave that to the younger generation.
I will continue contributing to President Bush's
vision - to go to the Moon, to Mars, and beyond.
Public reluctant to accept One Pesewa coin
Juaso (Ash), Feb. 13, Ghanadot/GNA - The One
Ghana Pesewa coin, which was introduced as part of
redenomination of the country’s currency in 2007 is not
easily accepted among the public either for purchases or
change, a survey has revealed ....More
Accra, Feb. 13, GNA
– Vice-President John Dramani Mahama on Friday
urged market women to help government promote
the retail of locally manufactured products to
bring about long-term stability in the economy.........more
Minister-Nominee end vetting
Accra, Feb. 13, Ghanadot/GNA
– The vetting of Mr Mark Owen
Woyongo, Minister-Nominee for the
Upper East Region, ended abruptly to
enable him to go and prepare
adequately to face the Parliamentary
Appointments Committee at a later
Eleven ministers approved by
Accra, Feb 13, Ghanadot - Eleven persons out of
the 21 nominated for ministerial appointments by
President John Evans Mills have been approved by
SPONSORSHIP AD HERE