Ghana aims to launch Coke-sized satellite

May 15, 2013, 10:28 AM EDT
A Coca Cola can with a picture of French football player Franck Ribery
AFP/ Joel Saget

KOFORIDUA, Ghana (AP) — Ghanaian college students plan Wednesday to launch a model of a satellite the size of a Coke can 200 yards (meters) into the air.

Organizers hope that it will be the start of this West African country's space program.

A main goal of the project is to bolster interest among students for Ghana's space program, which is behind those in several other sub-Saharan African countries, notably powerhouses Nigeria and South Africa.

Experts say Ghana is probably a good five years or more from developing its own operational satellites, which could one day be used to confront everything from natural disasters to the smuggling of natural resources.

Wednesday's project, though, starts with just a big balloon to carry aloft the miniature model of a satellite, known as a Deployable CanSat.