During its latest meeting (on May 27) the South African Cabinet approved a partnership between the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) and its US counterpart, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa). This partnership will see South Africa hosting one of the ground stations for Nasa’s new deep space network.
The new ground station will be located at Matjiesfontein in the Western Cape province. It will be managed, operated and maintained by Sansa.
The Matjiesfontein ground station will be part of a network, one of four such stations around the world. The other three will be in Australia, Spain and the US.
The South African station will provide improved coverage and redundancy for essential mission support. The purpose of this new Nasa network is to support crewed spaceflight missions to the Moon and Mars.
“The station will benefit South Africa in, amongst others, the development of scarce skills and the growth of science, engineering, technology and innovation sector,” highlighted the Cabinet statement. “It will also provide opportunities to feed the knowledge economy, and increase the national research output in space science and technology.”