Space Advisory Company (SAC) is a privately-owned satellite programme, systems engineering and consulting company. The Company was established in 2009 by Dr Sias Mostert and Ferdi Herbst, and is located in Somerset West, South Africa. According to the company’s website, SAC contributed leading roles on a number of South African and international satellite missions, with a specific focus on Earth observation (EO) satellites and EO payloads.
Space Advisory Company is a member of the SCS Group that has commercialized several imaging payloads (cameras) and other electronic payloads for nano-, micro- and small satellite programs for the domestic and international markets.
In addition, the company also offers an extensive training program. This training program includes access to academic institutes for post graduate studies and knowledge transfer through structured satellite or payload projects. These programs can be used to create localised capability and industry capacity. The program is flexible and can be aligned to market needs.
The SCC team comprises of highly experienced and dynamic specialists that have been involved in both South African and international satellite missions. Several of these team members gained their experience in the South African space industry over more than two decades.
STRUCTURE & OWNERSHIP
The SCS group is now 10 years old, making it the longest living company in South Africa’s proud space history. Other members of the group include SCS Space and S4D. David du Toit succeeded Duncan Stanton as CEO of SAC and the SCS group at the end of 2018. Dr Sias Mostert, founder of the SCS Group, is chairman of the board.
David is currently involved in consolidating the group as market entity, enhancing the various units of the group to achieve new synergies. SCS (which includes SAC) currently employs more than 50 experienced South African satellite specialists across its various specialist divisions and has trained over 400 engineers locally and internationally.
PRODUCTS & MARKET
The SCS group offers a range of products and services includes the following:
- Systems Engineering
- Functional Area Engineering across all satellite subsystems including Power Systems, Digital Systems, Attitude Determination Control Systems (ADCS), System Level Software, Thermal Engineering, Structural, Integration & Testing, Assembly, and general Space Craft Design
- Optical Systems / Space-based Camera Products
- Sub-systems Products [and RF & Communication Systems]
- Training of Satellite Engineers
- Program Management
The main focus of the business is to achieve significant milestones in the area of space engineering by engaging in consultancy and other innovative activities. SCS integrates and offers vital skills needed to drive international and national satellite programs, whether remotely or physically. The company endeavours to continue focussing on its training programs to enable its clients to establish and expand their space capability and capacity.
SCS has recorded big successes with the performance of its operational camera payloads in space, and also with the delivery of a critical controller units for an international deep space mission. SCS supplied the controller unit for the Netherlands China Low-Frequency Explorer (NCLE) radio astronomy payload, which was launched aboard the Chang’e-4 relay satellite in min 2018. The instrument currently being commissioned where it is stationed at the Earth-Moon L2 point, more than 400,000 km from Earth.
The developed indigenously Gecko Camera won the innovation award at the tt100 awards. The first operational Gecko camera has been operational space for over 21 months on board the company’s own nSight-1 satellite. This satellite, wholly developed by SCS and launched as part of the European QB-50 constellation, has been a stellar performer, and has sent back many impressive photographs of Earth from space, while simultaneously capturing scientific data about Earth’s atmosphere.
The Gecko camera is the smallest and lightest satellite imager that SCS manufactures. More capable imagers in the range include the newer Chameleon imager (designed for 6U class satellites) and the significantly larger Tegu imager which recently made its successful debut aboard the PakTES-1A satellite.
Two, much larger, complete satellites as well as several Gecko were delivered to export customers during the past year. SCS also contributed to the systems engineering of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Science Data Processor (SDP) which successfully completed Critical Design Review (CDR) early in 2019.
CURRENT & FUTURE PROJECTS
SCS has always reinforced its commitment to long-term relationships with its partners and customers to ensure mutual value. This includes continuing its involvement in the SKA project as this project moves to the implementation phase. SCS has is also developing high performance hyperspectral optical imaging payloads that will be suitable for a Cubesat constellations.
Another focus area is Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) technology. This will add to SCS’s existing earth observation technology with enhanced day-and-night all-weather observation capabilities. The company is working on a few market opportunities and planning the first SAR product launches in 2 – 3 years.
Although the commercial space industry is quickly growing internationally, it remains a challenge for local companies to access funding and investment. This is a challenge not only in South Africa, but across the whole continent.
One thing is certain: the space industry is ripe with opportunities. The market is becoming aware that space technology can play a vital role in the socio-economic upliftment of countries across the continent, but it requires bold investors to play a more active role in unlocking this potential.
The Authority on News, Data and Market Analysis for the African Space Industry.