This includes the launch in 2017 of nSight-1, South Africa’s first commercially developed nanosatellite, building on the space heritage of two pioneering micro-satellites SunSat and SumbandilaSat. With an imager with 30m GSD, 2.5kg nanosatellite benefits from the advances in payload technology, miniaturisation of electronics and standardisation of mechanical interfaces to offer small satellite systems at never before price points, that are suitable for operational missions in Low Earth Orbi. The satellite systems offered by SCS Space have their roots in technology with space heritage and space systems engineering with a heritage since the start of SunSat in 1992.
The space company has redesigned and adapted its organisation to a different future. Forthwith, one of its subsidiaries will operate independently as SCS Space, a missions company. CEO Dr Sias Mostert intends to accelerate the shift by making space technology successful for SCS Space partners.
The restructuring comes in the wake of 11 years of space engineering, manufacturing and satellite launches, catapulting SCS AG to one of South Africa’s leading aerospace companies. The transformation of SCS Space’s role to that of space mission development follows the decision to unbundle the internal supply chain. Focusing on high technology in conjunction with a mature supply chain will extract more value for investors.
With more than 25 years of experience in the space industry, Dr Mostert is confident that SCS Space will continue to deliver a vital service as a trusted advisor and reliable space missions’ partner for the next decade. As co-founder of the SCS AG group, he is saddened to see the end of an era, however, excited to see the SCS Space Aerospace Group grow on creating value from the maturing supply chain.
In January 2020, there was still the possibility of DragonFly taking over SCS Aerospace Group; however, the transaction fell through in February 2020. Today SCS Aerospace Group is a completely independent group with a specific focus on realising value in the space value chain.
The future of SCS Space
Currently, SCS Space follows a growth strategy within three application sectors, taking advantage of its global network of collaborators, understanding government needs, technology advances and partnerships with service providers in specific vertical markets. The sectors are Maritime Domain Awareness, Agriculture (Smart Farming/ Food Security) and Critical Infrastructure Monitoring.
To this end, its FleetSAR project was initiated. FleetSAR, a venture between SCS Space (Pty) Ltd, MPSA (Pty) Ltd and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), is focused on a greenfield project that proposes to design, manufacture, launch and operate a fleet of 12 satellites in orbit around the Earth. The satellites, collectively named a constellation, will each be capable of collecting data by scanning the surface of the Earth, day or night. This data is then transmitted to Earth for storage and processing. Once the data is received, at satellite ground stations, it is processed into information products and services required by various users. Users can use the visual data to support policy and critical decision making within various areas of government and industry – especially helpful in agriculture, infrastructure, maritime, mining and rapid response applications.
According to Dr Mostert, “The uniqueness of the FleetSAR solution offers a monitoring capability at competitive pricing, reliable, accurate data and value-add services. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) generates high-resolution remote sensing imagery, imaging large swaths independent of weather, or time of day or night. FleetSAR provides higher revisit times than conventional SAR satellites – it can even penetrate through vegetation cover. FleetSAR data have a wide application in remote sensing and monitoring of Earth’s processes – including topography, oceanography, geology, glaciology, forestry, civil infrastructure stability, environment monitoring (climate change), urban growth, government information and more”.
Constellations drastically increase revisit times.
The system capacity is 4 million km² per day per satellite, and with a constellation of twelve satellites, a total of 48 million km² can be covered daily.
Countries can invest in FleetSAR and benefit from cost-effective access to the infrastructure required to underpin the basic economic functions in society. FleetSAR enables countries to have the benefit of a constellation with single satellite ownership. Factors that contribute favourably to the South African satellite supply chain are a 30- year heritage in space engineering innovation, cost-effective infrastructure, sector-government incentives to attract investment.
The current market for SAR data and the insufficient number of data providers allow for an attractive opportunity to new entrants. The capability to give accurate, objective and reliable information in real-time from anywhere in the world is a transformative proposition for practically every industry and government.