The African Space Industry promises impressive growth, especially in the next four years. As African satellites are expected to increase, there is a growing demand for African countries to start launching rockets from the continent. In response to this, Netloxh, a South Africa based company, is promising to launch Africa’s first satellite from the continent by 2021. In September, Space in Africa had an interview with the CEO of Netloxh, Hans Botha, where he explains their projections for the company. As part of Space in Africa’s 2020 in Review series, we have once again reached out to Botha, to discuss the future of Netloxh, and how they piloted the company through a global pandemic.
How was Netloxh able to navigate through the economic difficulties that were occasioned by the pandemic?
Netloxh has done a rapid analysis of priorities and re-prioritized critical elements to continue during the lockdown. We have strapped back on cost but continued with our relocation plans to the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
One of the primary focus of Netloxh is to drive research and development in the areas of rockets and spacecraft, to what extent were you able to further R&D during the lockdown?
Research and development of rocket and spacecraft are well advanced. We have developed three rocket sizes with different payload capacities as primary launch vehicles for 2021 and 2022.
1. Netloxh Eagle1 take payload up to 500kg to LEO. Eagle1is equipped with 1 Tronloxh engine, running on liquid oxygen and refined RP1.
2. Netloxh Eagle Skyler (ES5), takes payload from 500kg to 5000kg to LEO. Eagle Skyler is equipped with 5 Tronloxh engines, running on liquid oxygen and refined RP1.
3. Netloxh Eagle Supreme (Similar in capacity to Falcon 9 of SpaceX) with payload capabilities of up to 22000tons. Eagle Supreme run with 9 Tronloxh supercharges engines with liquid oxygen and refined RP1.
Did Netloxh enjoy government concession, tax exemption or some other form of government protection during the lockdown?
Netloxh did not receive any Government concessions or protection and we were fully private, and we were protected financially.
The Space industry was forced to adapt, with some sectors innovating to stay in form. How did Netloxh innovate, and would you be maintaining those innovative mechanisms post-pandemic?
We were able to do several tests of the newly designed Tronloxh engines with superior results. The Tronloxh engine ranges have been completely designed and manufactured inhouse by Netloxh. We are also busy with a new rocket fuel development and a plant will be established in the Western Cape for dedicated rocket fuel manufacturing. Netloxh will continue to relocate manufacturing facilities to the Western Cape Province at the beginning of 2021 February.
Netloxh is in continuous innovation with space sector capabilities and will build back momentum post-pandemic. We are rapidly expanding our operations and capacity and will spread our wings across Africa 2021-2022.
As a privately funded company, to what extent was Netloxh able to achieve its goals and benefit from funding through 2020?
Netloxh set aside a buffer fund to weather the storm created by the pandemic with budgets targeted towards priorities.
The lockdown and its effect will spiral into Q1 of 2021, how is Netloxh preparing for 2021?
South Africa is still under lockdown Level 1 but Netloxh will not be affected with operations. We have a strict protocol with procedures that we follow to reduce and mitigate the risk of the pandemic.
What would you say are the highlights of Netloxh’s activities for 2020?
Highlights of 2020 were Tronloxh rocket engine manufacturing and testing success, and finalizing avionics of our 3 rocket types. Highlights for 2021 Q1 will be to successfully relocate operations to Western Cape Province.
Netloxh promised to be the first private company in Africa to develop a rocket launch facility and send rockets to space from the continent, is this plan still underway?
Netloxh launch facilities will be ready in Q3 of 2021. Our first launches will take place from the Overberg facility and move across to the new launch facilities in Q4 of 2021.
What should the industry expect from Netloxh in 2021?
The industry should expect several with payloads in 2021. Netloxh will also demonstrate our first spacecraft (spaceplane) that will revolutionize launch capabilities and deep space travel from Africa.