The Department of Science and Technology (DST), director general, Dr Phil Mjwara, announced earlier this week that the department is committed to support the development of a constellation of satellites through the investment of R27 million.

The director general announced this at a plenary briefing that was hosted by the Cape Peninsula University of Cape Town (CPUT), after the successful launch of the country’s second nano-satellite, ZACUBE-2, which is considered the most advanced on the continent.

“We have contracted CPUT to develop three more nano-satellites to the value of R27 million to be launched by 2020. This investment will allow us to take full advantage of SA’s vast and exclusive economic zone, our oceans, which have the potential to add R177 billion to the country’s gross domestic product and create over 1 million jobs by 2033,” Mjwara told IOL News.

The nano-satellite named ZACUBE-2 is funded by DST in support of Operation Phakisa, to provide cutting edge, high frequency data exchange communication systems to maritime industry and it will monitor the movement of ships along the coastline with its automatic identification system (AIS).

ZACUBE-2 is the predecessor of ZACUBE-1, which was developed by CPUT space programme graduates four years ago, and continues to transmit space weather data.

“Currently South Africa purchases its AIS data at huge cost from outside service providers, and we are now in position to provide our own data but at present only twice. Once we have a constellation of satellites providing a constant flow of data, it will go towards proving SA has the indigenous knowledge to provide this technology for our country,” concluded CPUT head of space programme, Prof Robert Van Zyl.

 

[Source – IOL News]

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