Within the past month, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has become a global player in space technology with the launch of Africa’s first nanosatellite, the assisting of India’s first Mars operation, and the unveiling of an ultramodern In-Orbit Testing (IOT) facility. South Africa’s nanosatellite, named ZACUBE-1, is set to be launched from Russia this week.
Built by students from the French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI), the ZACUBE-1’s purpose is to collect data on the weather in space. Orbiting Earth 15 times a day, ZACUBE-1 will aid SANSA in joining forces with weather radar located in Antarctica.
The design and development of the ZACUBE-1 project has contributed to three scientific journal papers, to the graduation of 22 Master’s students, and towards the development of the African Space Innovation Centre. Working on the ZACUBE-1 has offered South African’s a unique learning experience never before offered in the continent.
SANSA also unveiled it’s new In-Orbit Testing facility this month, equipped with the equipment and infrastructure necessary to commission new satellites. This state-of-the-art facility located in Hartebeesthoek, has the ability to support international space launches, provide telemetry, and track and command satellites for global clients.
Notably, SANSA announced last week that it would participate in India’s first Mars operation. SANSA will be providing command services, telemetry, and satellite tracking assistance. India’s Space Research Organization launched its Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft this month, and it was less than two hours after the launch that SANSA began participating in the operation by providing MOM with transfer-orbit support services (TOSS) via satellite signals.