How a Team of Local High School Students Plan Build Cambodia’s First Satellite.

Ansel & Josie Sanger
6 min readNov 30, 2019

My Why’s for Jumping at an Opportunity to Help.

In the first three parts of this series, we encouraged our readers to travel, build connections, and introduced you to our adventures across the world. Travelling in Cambodia, we found a group of High School students who are agents of change. What does that even mean? Why are we so interested? We recap and expand on this in part 4.

We traveled to Cambodia for the first time a few months ago and were blown away. Imagine if your country spent decades without a monetary system, schools were abolished, and every person with scientific or educational background was killed. That is the recent historical reality in Cambodia. Just 40 years ago, an atrocious genocide at the hands of the Khmer Rouge ripped Cambodia apart. Since then, Cambodian citizens have been rebuilding. Rebuilding their cities, infrastructure, and educational systems. As you can imagine, when starting over, there is a lot of work to do and resources are scarce and some elements of infrastructure just don’t exist yet.

A group of senior high school students at Liger Leadership Academy (yep, Ligers) are very ambitious and want to be the very first Cambodians to build and launch a 1-unit satellite into space. We are committed to help these students to overcome their lack of resources by spreading awareness and backing their Kickstarter campaign so thousands of kids can learn about space. Will you join us?

[Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked?]

Quick Take:

  • Cambodia is in a state of recovering and rebuilding after a tragic genocide just 40 years ago.
  • Why we’re supporting a team of five high school students build Cambodia’s first satellite.
  • Help the CubeSat team build their satellite

Cambodia is in a state of rebuilding

“Between 1975 to 1979 Cambodia lost nearly three quarters of our educated people during the Khmer Rouge genocide.” — Sreyeang, Liger CubeSat Team member.

A couple months ago, we visited what was once a high school, but in 1976 was converted into a horrific prison camp called Security Prison 21 (S-21). Under the Khmer Rouge regime, thousands of people were tortured and killed for information on those who supposedly opposed their leader Pol Pot. This place is now called the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and its located in the center of the capitol of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. Going there was an emotionally heavy experience. It’s hard to believe that such terrible acts are committed anywhere in the world and for us, the reality of these events occurring just 40 years ago was sobering.

Watch a 2 minute video by the Liger CubeSat Team:

Two months before visiting that museum, Ansel and I found ourselves at an entrepreneurial event in Phnom Penh hoping to learn what innovations and new businesses were in this city’s future. It turned out that the group presenting that night were high school seniors from Liger Leadership Academy. They presented the galactic goal of building and launching Cambodia’s first satellite.

Why I’m supporting a team of five high school students build Cambodia’s first satellite.

For me, it’s because I met the team, heard them talk about their goals, and have left every conversation with them since feeling more alive than I did before.

Sreyneang, the 17 year-old project manager on this team, has a heart and passion that sees things that have never been done before simply as challenges to overcome- really. Generally, when I see that sort of challenge, my mind races with all of the seemingly impossible details. In the preparation for this project, government officials have confronted Sreyneang with a list all the reasons why this project will be very difficult, she has looked them in the eyes and said, “But we have passion.” I get teary-eyed even typing that quote. I think it is because that is such a bold and vulnerable statement.

I’ve been learning a lot about vulnerability and taking risks this year. These kids embody the kind of hope and drive I want to have in life. They are taking risks at every point in this project by being pioneers — not just in their school, but as citizens of their country in doing things that have not been done before. These high schoolers model what we all could be.

The defining aspect of their project that has me jumping at the chance to support them: their reason for building a satellite.

“We plan to have 10 radio kits available for students to borrow while our satellite is in orbit, rotating them to reach at least 50 secondary schools and universities throughout Cambodia. Through workshops at each of these schools, we will teach students about space, and show them how to use the kits to download pictures from our satellite!” — Sreyneang

Could their project get any better? As a former educator, the chance to be a part of spreading project-based learning and open opportunity doors for thousands of Cambodia is incredible. Supporting the selfless team that is working to make this happen is a no-brainer for me.

Help the CubeSat Team Build their Satellite!

The Liger CubeSat team, with the help of mentors: a former Boeing Engineer, Aerospace Professor at Cal Poly, and several other experts, have been working passionately to make this impact plan happen. They are currently limited financially and need help to make their goal a reality. Learn more by checking out their kickstarter:

Through the support of one of their mentors from Cal Poly, the Liger CubeSat team has been granted access to the building and testing facilities at Cal Poly. This has made the team’s goal even more accessible and greatly reduced the funding they need to accomplish their goal. After spending time with this team in Cambodia, we’re absolutely amazed and inspired at the story, impact plan, and passion these kids have. We’ve decided to partner with them and help launch a kickstarter to get them to Cal Poly and purchase the materials to build the satellite. How could we not be a part of something that would impact an entire nation??

Will you join the team? The students at Liger Leadership Academy need your help to start this flame of inspiration and space-exploration! Will you help unlock this curiosity door so they can send their satellite into space?

Learn more and contribute here:

More about Cal Poly’s relationship with this project:


As a country with a missing generation of leaders, the Liger CubeSat team is passionately working towards challenging the status quo and breaking educational barriers. Their goal is to be the first Cambodians to build and launch a satellite. Not only will this be a historical event for Cambodia, it will impact thousands of local students as they are given the experience of project-based learning and access to space exploration. Will you join these students and help provide learning opportunities for kids in Cambodia?

Contribute to this mission here:

On behalf of the LigerSat team, thank you for taking the time to read about their story and for supporting this incredible dream.

~Josie and Ansel Sanger



Ansel & Josie Sanger

Traveling, learning, growing. We paused our business in Seattle to live and travel around Southeast Asia — wow there is so much to learn!