Feb 06, 2009
Why a South African national space agency?Back
© Reuse this
The National Space Agency Act is to pull together all the disjointed South African space-related activities under one banner, in an effort to synthesize technology and resources so as to provide for the establishment of a national space agency, which will implement a space programme in South Africa.
South Africa's history of involvement in space-related activities is a rich one, starting with astronomy, which has been practised in South Africa since 1685.
In 1820, a permanent observatory was established outside Cape Town. Astronomy has been practised continuously since then. The next 180 years saw continual scientific astronomical endeavours, culminating in the construction of the Southern African Large Telescope in Sutherland.
When the ‘Space Age' dawned, and satellites and men were first sent into space, South Africa was involved. From the 1950s to the 1970s, satellites were tracked from South African facilities to determine the effects of the upper atmosphere on their orbits.
Lunar and interplanetary missions were supported from a tracking station at Hartebeesthoek, near Krugersdorp. This station received the images of the planet Mars taken by the Mariner IV spacecraft. These were the first images of Mars and of another planet to be received on Earth.
In the 1980s, South Africa began work on a launcher and satellite, but this was discontinued in 1994. However, in 1999, South Africa launched its first satellite, Sunsat. The 64-kg microsatellite was built by staff and students at the University of Stellenbosch. The team that built Sunsat is currently planning the launch of a second, more capable South African satellite in March, called Sumbandila.
South Africa has a variety of institutions that play a significant role in the scientific study, exploration and use of space. These institutions, situated in academia, science councils and commercial industry, have broad competencies in satellite applications, satellite engineering and space science, including all the supporting technologies.
The existing infrastructure and skilled workforce, inside these facilities and in the wider industry supporting them, allows South Africa to position itself as a regional hub of space science and technology.
This can be used as a basis for strengthening ties with industry in established space-faring nations, and for developing links with other emerging national space initiatives, particularly in Africa.
South Africa is an active participant in the international space arena. South African space professionals participate in numerous specialist and political forums, such as the United Nations Committee on the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
Currently, South Africa and Australia are vying for the opportunity to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the largest and most sensitive radio telescope ever to be established.
The SKA will consist of thousands of dishes between 10 m and 15 m in diameter. Special antenna tiles in the core of the array will form a ‘radio fish-eye lens' for all sky monitoring at low frequencies. This will allow many independent observations to be performed simultaneously.
A final decision regarding its location is to be given in 2010, while the construction is to begin in 2014. If built in South Africa, the core of the SKA will be in the Karoo region of the Northern Cape Province.
Outer stations will fan out from the core in a spiral pattern, with proposed remote stations in several other African countries and neighbouring islands.
Edited by: Laura Tyrer© Reuse this
To subscribe email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here
To advertise email email@example.com or click here
Other Aerospace News
Having received direct approval in 2014 from aerospace major Airbus that it is a credible supplier, Cape Town-based machined components supplier Daliff Precision Engineering aims to secure machining contracts from international Airbus Tier 1 suppliers within the next...
In the past two years, European airliner maker Airbus has added eight African and Indian Ocean airlines to its regional operators’ base, continuing a growth trend that began in the mid-1970s and which is firmly on track to meet the region’s future needs for over 970...
Spanish multinational consulting and technology firm Indra SA is a Level 3 BEE company with a range of services and solutions for several sectors, including air traffic management; defence and security; and infrastructure. This include rail, road traffic, ports,...
Updated 5 hours ago President Jacob Zuma unveiled the skeletons of what he described as an economic “turnaround plan” in a State of the Nation Address dominated by the current plight of the South African economy, which was unlikely to grow by more than 1% in 2016 and would not nearly...
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2016: A review of South Africa's construction industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2016 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; key participants; local demand; geographic diversification; corporate activity; black economic...
Energy Roundup – February 2016 (PDF Report)
The February 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for December 2015 and January 2016 and includes details of a Government Gazette notice that confirms Cabinet’s decision to move ahead with the 9 600 MW nuclear procurement programme; State-owned power...
Energy Roundup - December 2015 (PDF Report)
The December 2015 roundup includes details of State-owned utility Eskom’s application to claw back R22.8-billion; South Africa’s ranking as an investment destination for renewable energy; and a nuclear expert’s thoughts on reactor designs for South Africa’s nuclear...
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
This Week's Magazine
Updated 1 hour 16 minutes ago Lifting, transporting, installing and ballasting solutions provider Ale has expanded its global fleet of trailers and invested in the latest range of widening trailers that can be mechanically widened from 3 m to the desired width for any project. Ale ordered 48 axle...
Updated 1 hour 16 minutes ago The market for the BMW 7 Series in South Africa differs quite significantly from the rest of the world. China, the US and the Middle East almost exclusively buy the long-wheel-base version, using the German manufacturer’s luxury high-end sedan as a chaffeur-driven...
Updated 1 hour 16 minutes ago January new-vehicle sales fell by 6.9%, to 48 615 units, compared with the same month last year. Statistics released by the Department of Trade and Industry show that the domestic new passenger-car market declined by 6.1%, to 34 936 units, compared with 12 months ago.
Updated 1 hour 16 minutes ago Information technology (IT) equipment and infrastructure multinational Dell is providing open infrastructure systems for clients so that they can use any systems, including innovative new systems, that suit their business needs, says Dell Europe, Middle East and...
Updated 1 hour 16 minutes ago South Africa’s State-owned defence industrial group, Denel, has set up another international partnership, based in Hong Kong. This new subsidiary is Denel Asia and it is a joint venture (JV) with South African private sector company VR Laser.