The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) reached an important milestone for its Space Weather Project after the Cabinet approved and welcomed the designation of South Africa as a Regional Space Weather Centre for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) during its meeting on 4 August 2021.
South Africa, through SANSA, has been designated to provide space weather information following the adopted standard by ICAO for all aviation requirements. The announcement of South Africa’s designation was made in November 2018. SANSA has been developing its capacity and laying the infrastructure to ensure readiness to serve aviation and other sectors. To this end, SANSA is making steady progress on upgrading its current limited capacity to an operational 24/7 Space Weather capability to meet ICAO’s deadline of October 2022.
SANSA CEO Dr Valanathan Munsami explained that the Cabinet Memorandum ensures that the new Space Weather Centre being built by SANSA, with the support of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), has the highest level of political backing in the country. “This underscores the importance of this initiative, nationally, regionally and internationally.”
SANSA Managing Director, Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell, said “the Cabinet’s announcement arrived at the time when SANSA is best positioned to start engaging across governments in terms of the impact from space weather events, and how this capability and expertise can assist in understanding and mitigating the effects.
“The tabling of the memo is significant in that it brings to the Cabinet’s attention, the important role that SANSA is playing as a Space Weather Information service provider. It also highlights our capability and plans to extend that capability to all spheres of government which will allow us to engage further,” said McKinnell.
Cabinet has also permitted SANSA to collaborate with the Pan- European Consortium for Aviation Space Weather User Service. This allows South Africa to grow its science and engineering technology and innovation focus and puts the country on the map as a global player in space science. In addition, SANSA is well-positioned to ensure that South Africa contributes to the worldwide space weather challenge.
SANSA now intends to host information sessions for various government departments and their entities to highlight the impacts of space weather on their business and the economy and how SANSA can assist.
The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) was established in December 2010, but South Africa’s involvement with space research and activities started many decades earlier with helping early international space efforts in the second half of the 20th century and observing the Earth’s magnetic field at stations around Southern Africa.
SANSA was created to promote the use of space and strengthen cooperation in space-related activities while fostering research in space science, advancing scientific engineering through developing human capital, and supporting industrial development in space technologies. The research and work carried out at SANSA focuses on space science, engineering, and technology to promote development, build human capital, and provide important national services. Much of this work involves monitoring the Earth and our surrounding environment and using the collected data to ensure that navigation, communication technology and weather forecasting services function as intended.
For more information, please contact:
SANSA Communications Practitioner
Tel: 028 285 0103.