The Director General of the DST Dr Phil Mjawara announced the investment at a plenary briefing on the status of South Africa’s most advanced nano-satellite ZACube-2. The post-launch plenary session, held at CPUT, gathered South Africa’s space industry stakeholders, government officials and students to celebrate the nation’s recent milestone in the space sector.
Dr Phil Mjawara said, “When we worked with CPUT and when we heard that the first two satellites were successfully launched, we were delighted about the progress made. As part of building our space capacity, we started looking for additional resources and we were able to source an amount of R27 million. We will be working with CPUT to develop the next constellation”, IOL News quoted.
South Africa to build a constellation of nanosatellites for Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA)
On 21 November 2013, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) launched South Africa’s first CubeSat, a type of nanosatellite, ZACube-1. Postgraduate students at CPUT developed the CubeSat, following the CubeSat Programme at the French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI) in collaboration with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). ZACube-1’s main payload is a high frequency (HF) beacon transmitter used to help characterize the Earth’s ionosphere and to calibrate SANSA’s auroral radar installation at the SANAE-IV base in Antarctica.
Following the success of ZACube-1, CPUT recently launched its second CubeSat ZACube-2 on December 27, 2018. The nanosatellite, built by CPUT in collaboration with SANSA and the University of Stellensboch, is a 3U precursor and technology demonstrator CubeSat whose payloads include a medium resolution matrix imager and a number of communication subsystems.
The recently announced R27 million investment will fund the CubeSat space program to develop three more nano-satellites for an MDA satellite constellation that will assist South Africa’s ocean monitoring efforts and veld fire detection. The space programme has already graduated over 60 postgraduate students starting from CPUT’s first CubeSat ZACube-1.
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Analyst at Space in Africa. His experience spans industry research and market analysis with a focus on African-grown NewSpace companies, commercial space industry, national space programmes and real-life application of space science for sustainable development in Africa.