The Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) both believe South Africa's next satellite project will greatly benefit the country. "We have secured Treasury funding for the new satellite," pointed out DST chief director: space science Humbulani Mudau at a Sansa function in Pretoria on Tuesday. "It will be an operational satellite, not a technology demonstrator. The satellite will be part of the African Resources Management constellation. The design phase is almost complete."
Currently referred to as EOSat-1, for Earth Observation Satellite, DST and Sansa hope that the planned new spacecraft will significantly stimulate the local space sector, including industry. "EOSat-1 will, I believe, count as one of the biggest and most complex space projects ever undertaken in this country," affirmed Sansa executive director: corporate services Zweli Ndziba at the same function, which marked the formal release of the 2013 edition of Sansa's Fundisa educational resources. "I believe that we will establish a strong South African presence in the delivery of this important [EOSat] project." He called on the entire local space sector to get involved with the new satellite project. "Our quest [is] to be recognised as a member of the global space endeavour."
Mudau praised the country's previous satellite programme Sumbandila. "That programme has, to date, been one of the successful programmes." With a very small budget, the programme had demonstrated that South Africa could build and operate its own satellite. Furthermore, the programme had produced 17 Masters degree graduates in engineering and remote sensing as well as two PhDs. He highlighted the role of the space sector in helping develop a knowledge-based economy in South Africa. He also noted that the DST was looking at the creation of space sector centres of competence, which would bring academia and industry together to create critical mass.
"We have developed a South African Earth observation strategy," stated Mudau. "We'll ensure that Earth observation will become an integral part of our daily lives in South Africa." Earth observation data will ideally be used in the making of policy and the execution of actions to meet the country's socioeconomic and other needs. The aim is to make such data easily available to all in the country, including those in rural areas. One of the objectives, in this regard, is to assist small and emerging farmers, even if they are in remote areas.