The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have been approved to build a new deep space ground station in South Africa.
This station will support human space flight missions to the Moon and Mars, which are being planned by NASA at the moment.
This will become the fourth site in a network which spans across the United States of America, Spain, and Australia.
“The station will benefit South Africa in, among others, the development of scarce skills and the growth of the science, engineering, technology and innovation sector,” Cabinet said in a statement.
It will be based in Matjiesfontein in the Western Cape, and be managed by SANSA. Local universities and students will also have the ability to conduct long-term projects with the assistance of this station.
“Continuous research and development are vital in any industry for it to thrive and at the rate and pace the space industry is developing, it’s appropriate for SANSA to partner with NASA on this study agreement,” said Dr Valanathan Munsami, Chief Executive Officer of SANSA.
The addition of a site to the network will go a way to helping improve coverage and redundancy for critical mission support.
“Having worked with the South African government on numerous projects in the past, it is fitting to collaborate with SANSA on this study agreement, not only because of the geographical positioning of South Africa but more so the technical capabilities and the consistent quality of work produced by SANSA Space Operations over the years,” said Marcus Watkins, Director of the NASA’s Management Office.