2020 in Review – SCS Space

The nSight Team
SCS Space was responsible for the launch of South Africa’s first commercially developed nanosatellite, nSight-1, which was built on the space heritage of two pioneering microsatellites SunSat and SumbandilaSat. SCS Space has become a trusted advisor, consulting customers on complex satellite technology solutions and supply chain systems.
In line with Space in Africa’s 2020 in Review series, we had a chat with Smuts Louw, the New Programmes and Contract Manager on what the Satellite Technology company has been up to in 2020 and what to look forward to in 2021.
What projects did you execute this year?
The most interesting projects that we attended to this year was the delivery of Space imagers for Agrotec in Italy, continued contribution to the Scientific data Processor project under the Square Kilometre Array project and several initiatives in support of developing feasibility studies and business cases for observation constellations (in various stages of progress and completion)

What were the milestones achieved by SCS Space this year?

The biggest milestone was that SCS Space emerging from a major restructuring with a clear focus on its value proposition in the market. SCS Space improved our position in terms of market, specialist personnel in the team and growth in our wider business network in a year characterised by world-wide turmoil and commercial uncertainty.

Did you achieve all you set out to do this year?

We would always like to achieve more, but we are satisfied that we maintained and improved our position during a difficult year.

How has the pandemic affected productivity?

As SCS Space is primarily a service and knowledge economy company, the pandemic had no significant impact on productivity, but the team had to quickly adapt to remote working and had to put strategies in place to ensure alignment and effective communications.

Was your workforce affected by the pandemic?

Yes, some personnel had the Covid-19 virus, but in general, we were lucky that there was no serious impact on daily activities.

Did you switch from physical to remote work?

All our personnel worked (and is still working) from home since the first lock-down was announced in South Africa.

What are your plans for next year?

SCS Space is working on several initiatives and business, and we are aiming for growth in a managed and sustainable fashion

What was business like for you in 2020?

2020 was, in general, a challenging year, of which the pandemic was not the least, but SCS Space remained stable and improved our position in some areas that are important to us.

Did you get any satellite/payload contracts this year?

There are several opportunities progressing well, but we are not in a position to divulge any more. We did notice, that several procurement decisions were delayed or impacted by changing priorities during the pandemic.

Will the pandemic shape business operations henceforth?

We expect that there will be a remaining and lagging impact flowing from 2020 into 2021, but that there will be an improvement next year.

nSight-1 exceeded its lifespan in orbit, are there plans to launch another Nsight satellite?

SCS Space is working with all the relevant South African stakeholders to realise Nsight-2 in the next period, and some progress was made in this regard. We are looking forward to further announcements in this regard in the foreseeable future.

Could you throw more light on the FleetSAR project?

The FleetSAR constellation is about sufficient sensor capacity to protect the maritime economics of Africa and contribute to infrastructure monitoring and agricultural monitoring in tropical areas. The FleetSAR constellation has been presented twice to the Presidential Infrastructure Development initiative and has completed its pre-feasibility study, and all the partners are at work to achieve closure on the bankable feasibility study.

How has SCS been able to bridge the gap between the current market for SAR and the insufficient number of data providers?

The business case for FleetSAR is very strong, and the FleetSAR constellation looks forward to satisfying a core need in the market

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