R/€ = 14.22
R/$ = 10.58
Au 1304.12 $/oz
Pt 1490.50 $/oz
Feb 28, 2008
SA ponders satellite launch optionsBack
Pretoria|Africa|Nuclear|Africa|Europe|China|India|South Africa|South African Air Force Museum|Satellite Launch Capability|Satellite Launch Vehicle|Department Of Science And Technology|Department Of Trade And Industry|Missile Technology Control Regime|Val Munsami
© Reuse this The fact that all the leading players in Outer Space have, or are developing, national launch capabilities, has resulted in debate within and between government departments and institutions about South Africa exploring the establishment of its own satellite launch capability.
"This has definitely come up," reveals Department of Science and Technology space science and technology manager Dr Val Munsami.
"In fact, when we were doing the public consultation on the National Space Science and Technology Strategy, the issue of launch capability came up, purely because of the difficulties we are encountering with SumbandilaSat at the moment."
"This is space policy issue," he points out. "The Department of Trade and Industry is busy drafting a space policy at the moment and the launch issue is part of these discussions. The launch capability issue is also sensitive. Cast your mind back to how we got involved in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)."
In the 1980s, as part of the country's then nuclear weapons programme, South Africa developed an intermediate-range ballistic missile design. Three such missiles (designed RSA 1 to RSA 3) were built, of which two were test flown.
The third was converted to be a satellite launch vehicle for a spy satellite (which later evolved into the abortive GreenSat, which never flew), only to be subsequently de-activated under international supervision, and then put on display at the South African Air Force Museum at Air Force Base Swartkops, just south of Pretoria.
Further, South Africa adhered to the MTCR. "Some of the negotiations that took place at that time were that we were not going to embark on the development of any new missiles," points out Munsami.
Just as missiles can be adapted to launch satellites, it is not impossible to adapt satellite launch rockets to become missiles. "But, obviously, now that we're members of the MTCR, that means we're responsible users of the technology. So one has to weigh that option, whether we keep those promises, or whether we be responsible users of that technology. And it is clearly a political decision that has to be taken at a policy level."
As for SumbandilaSat, that was meant to have been launched last year, by the Russian Navy, on a converted Shtil submarine-launched ballistic missile. "We have official indications from the Russians that it is problematic that the Shtil can be used," he reports. "They have given us other options, but they will cost us time and money." This is because some of the integration interfaces between the satellite and the launch rocket will have to be re-designed.
As a result, the South Africans are also looking at other launch options, seeking to find that which is best for the country. "India is one of the options," he confirms. "Obviously, Europe is another. We haven't actually considered China but, if it comes our way, we definitely would. But that's not to say we have closed the door on the Russian option yet. We have to weigh the different options and see which is the best to suit our needs."
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
Other Video News
Updated 1 hour 16 minutes ago South African engineering union Numsa has agreed to end a four-week strike after accepting a wage increase offer from employers, union leader Irvin Jim said on Monday. Numsa, South Africa's largest union, has accepted a 10% annual pay rise fixed for three years for...
Updated 1 hour 41 minutes ago Trade union Solidarity on Monday accepted the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa’s (Seifsa’s) revised wage offer. The three-year wage agreement, settled within the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC), comprised...
Updated 2 hours 11 minutes ago South Africa will use the upcoming US-Africa Leaders' Summit, which will also encompass the 2014 edition of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) Forum, to appeal for a 15-year extension of the nonreciprocal trade arrangement, as well as South Africa’s...
Recent Research Reports
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Steel 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the steel industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the global and South African steel and stainless steel markets, South Africa’s major steel producers and events that have shaped these markets.
This Week's Magazine
Multinational semiconductor chipmaker corporation Intel announced its national campaign to further acquire partners to drive its She Will Connect programme, an initiative that aims to expand digital literacy skills to young women in developing countries, further into...
South Africa's MeerKAT radio telescope array programme should get back on schedule within a few months. This assurance has been given by SKA South Africa (SKA SA) associate director: science and technology Prof Justin Jonas. Early last month, Science and Technology...
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA’s) Metrorail service will remain a subsidised service following its current multibillion-rand rolling stock, station, depot and signalling upgrade programme. PRASA group CEO Lucky Montana has allayed fears that...
The uncertainties around the remediation of affected areas as addressed in the Contaminated Land Provisions in the National Environmental Management: Waste Act No 59 of 2008 will possibly spark litigation and disputes between landowners and businesses, contractors...
South Africa is currently the largest component of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB’s) active portfolio in Southern Africa, comprising 62.5% of the bank’s $7.9-billion exposure to the 12-country region – the second largest beneficiary is Mauritius, which...