Your Unofficial Guide to Kyrgyz Republic

Kyrgyz Girls to Launch the Very First Kyrgyz Space Program

Kyrgyz Girls to Launch the Very First Kyrgyz Space Program

By Aidai Chekirova

It’s been several months since Kloop Media has launched the very first Kyrgyz Space Program, where a group of girls are planning to build the first satellite in the history of the country. GO KG's Aidai Chekirova has met participants and trainers of the satellite building school.

The Idea

Kloop Media is one the largest media outlets in the Kyrgyz Republic, which was founded back in 2007 by Bektour Iskender and Rinat Tuhvatshin. Since then it became one of the best media websites in the country — it's now widely known beyond the Kyrgyz Republic too. One of its founders, Bektour Iskender was the first in Central Asian to give a TED Fellows talk — the 2016 talk was about the force of youth journalists. The outlet started its own unique journalism school the same year it was launched. The authors of Kloop are young people from 14 to 25. In 2016 Kloop Media launched classes on programming and robotics.

The idea of satellite building first came to Bektour Iskender after meeting Alex MacDonald from NASA:

Alex travels around the world inspiring people to launch local space programs. After hearing what Kloop Media does, he proposed the idea of setting up Kyrgyz Space Program, saying that launching satellites has become “as cheap as never before”.
— Kloop Media

The first class of the program started on March 5, 2018. The school helps girls to learn skills that will help them to build a satellite. In three months they have learned a lot and got skills in programming and engineering: soldering, programming on Arduino hardware, 3D-modelling and 3D-printing. 

Why Girls?

Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova, one of the program participants, shares why this idea is very important for the country:

The idea is great because it is the first space program in the Kyrgyz Republic. It aims, as the authors say, at girl empowerment. There is a STEAM-wave around the world and for us it would be a good idea to motivate our girls and to involve them into science.

Women in the Kyrgyz Republic are often exposed to violence. Many young girls are kidnapped, raped and suffer from abuse from their husbands. Kloop Media has emphasized they want to draw attention to those gender issues:

Because we are tired of discrimination against women in the Kyrgyz Republic. This way we want to prove to the whole world that girls can create anything they want. This might sound obvious to you, but unfortunately there are still too many people, who don’t believe this.

When Kloop Media launched programming classes, they often noticed how boys dominated in getting skills as it usually happens. Girls, who had enough knowledge by the end of the classes, could not show their skills, because they felt a psychological pressure due to their gender identity.

As Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova says, girls don’t feel moral oppression and conviction that they are less capable than boys in the satellite building  school. They get news skills in equal conditions and support each other in a special atmosphere.

The Beginning of the Way

The core participants of the school are students, recent graduates and some older women, who have children. Despite that girls were engaged in study and work, it did not prevent them from coming to the school, working hard in class and making contribution to Kyrgyz Space Program.

From the very beginning girls are trained by Kloop’s own trainers, who have already got experience in technology and engineering. Also, participants share that girls, who have been trained during the first stage, join the trainers on the next stages. Thus, participants strengthen knowledge, learn new skills and help others.

I’ve learned things that I had no idea I would ever do. I’ve learned how to solder, to work with the Arduino platform, have learned 3D-modeling and 3D-printing. Participation in this program was a very interesting experience for me. I’ve watched a lot of movies about the space and astronauts. I thought that it would be very cool to take part in building the first satellite in the Kyrgyz Republic. Being a part of such a program is a great honor for me. The process is quite interesting and exciting. You know, after 15-20 minutes of work, you just start to enjoy the process.
— Begaiym Isaakova, participant of the program

The Satellite

Kyrgyz Space Program plans to build and send a satellite to the orbit in 2020. As authors of the project say, the satellite will be a CubeSat, miniature and simple, the model, which can be 3D-printed. As Kloop Media writes, they have some ideas about the purpose of the satellite. But the authors of the program, Bektour Iskender and Rinat Tuhvashin have suggested that it would be better if girls came up with an idea at the end and decided about the purpose themselves.

The average budget of constructing and launching a satellite is in the range of USD 100-150 thousand. Kloop has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Patreon, where anyone can support the program.

What's Next?

As Kloop Media has recently told, during the next step girls will sharpen their skills, do programming, build more complex schemes on Arduino platform and print more complicated things on 3D-printer. The next part of the program also includes studying physics of orbital flights and working with vacuum cameras. As soon as the project gets enough funding, trainers from Lithuania, who used to successfully launch a similar project, will be invited.

School of satellite-building creates a special environment, where every girl can express and prove herself, show her skills and talent and go against all prejudices and stereotypes. We believe that they will inspire all other women in the Kyrgyz Republic and other countries not to be afraid and follow their bright ideas and dreams.

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