Kyrgyz women are preparing to launch the first independent satellite and popularize STEM professions

August 11, 2022

Every week, we share inspiring stories of innovators who are implementing socially significant projects as part of the #BOOST program to accelerate innovation. This week's innovators are girls from the Kyrgyz Space Program, which is working on launching the first satellite of independent Kyrgyzstan. Only young women can take part in the space program in order to increase their visibility in technical fields. The project was created so that every young woman who joins the team feels free and is not afraid to implement ideas. From next month, participants will develop a training platform where teenagers and adults will be able to learn the same things that they know in an accessible form in Russian and Kyrgyz.

“Women face many obstacles, problems and stereotypes at home, at work and in public life. For women in science, the challenges are even greater. Women and girls are expected to behave, look and express themselves in certain ways. Girls are not encouraged to study biochemistry or bioengineering because it is not considered a profession for women. Many families are reluctant to invest in girls' education because they believe they will not get a "return on their investment" – said Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova, head of the Kyrgyz space program.
The Kyrgyz space program is a step towards encouraging independent thinking among young women. Since the announcement of the program, the eight girls who form the core of the team have already learned how to program, use Arduino boards and solder. Their ultimate goal is to build the first satellite of Kyrgyzstan. The team is currently studying how to install sensors and traps on the device to measure magnetic fields, temperature, or movements. The Kyrgyz Space Program applied for the BOOST program because they were interested in the mission of the program. 
“For me, as a participant, it was useful with the team to review and write out the business plan of our project. And especially, it was useful to think about monetizing the project, since we are a social and educational program, which is why the project lives only on grants and crowdfunding. In general, we are already applying some of the knowledge gained in building a plan for the further development of our program. For the first time, we learned what impact is and how to make your project help move towards sustainable development goals; what is a business model and what are they; how to run a crowdfunding campaign. We will apply these new skills by creating our educational platform on which the knowledge that we have been collecting for 4 years will be available” – said Aidana Aidarbekova, Manager of the Kyrgyz Space Program.

For the entire current month, the participants will work with foreign mentors in Bishkek. They will conduct trainings on how to work with a training satellite and an engineering model of a satellite, that is, work on 2 satellites out of 3 will be completed. From next month, the girls will develop a training platform where teenagers and adults will be able to learn the same things that they know in an accessible form in Russian and Kyrgyz. Lessons are planned on satellite engineering, the basics of physics, engineering and, in general, about professions in STEM. The task of the learning platform is to introduce as many people as possible to STEM areas, which are not widely known in the Kyrgyz Republic.