South Africa’s Sumbandila microsatellite is scheduled for launch on March 25 next year, which will be a Wednesday.
The launch will be on a Soyuz launch vehicle of the Russian Roscosmos space agency, from the renowned Russian-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
SumbandilaSat will form a secondary payload for the rocket, the primary being a Russian Meteor M weather satellite.
SumbandilaSat was originally meant to have been launched last year, from a Russian Navy submarine, on a converted Shtil submarine-launched ballistic missile. That arrangement fell through, for reasons that have never been officially divulged (but see Engineering News February 8, 2008).
The South African microsatelllite has been designed, developed and assembled by SunSpace, a specialist microsatellite technology company spun-off by the University of Stellenbosch, to exploit the expertise developed in the design, assembly, and operation of the university’s own private-initiative satellite, SunSat, which, in 1999, became the first South African satellite to reach orbit.
SunSat had a mass of 64 kg and carried a fairly small multispectral imager, operating in three bands (red, blue, and green) with a resolution of 15 m (that is, one pixel equating to 15 m x 15 m on the ground) at an altitude of 600 km – the first of its kind on a small satellite in any country.
Sumbandila is a low Earth orbit observation microsatellite and its main payload is a 6,5 m multispectral imager – that is, the imager has a resolution of 6,5 m x 6,5 m at an altitude of 500 km. This imager was also designed, developed, and made by SunSpace.
Sumbandila means “lead the way” in the Venda language.