Three South African nanosatellites will be launched into space

Date:13 January 2022 Author: Micayla Vellai Tags:

South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr. Blade Nzimande has announced the launch of three South African nanosatellites on Thursday, 13 January 2022 – a first for SA’s space industry.

According to a statement, the first Maritime Domain Awareness Satellite constellation (MDASat-1) will be launched as part of US aerospace company SpaceX’s Transporter-3 mission, and is scheduled to take place Cape Canaveral in the United States at 17:25 South African time (this is the latest estimated time, and is subject to change depending on weather conditions).

“South Africa’s satellites will be launched aboard US aerospace company SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket as a “rideshare payload” of the company’s Transporter-3 (or ISI Launch 36P) mission, and will be deployed in low Earth orbit at an altitude of 525 kilometres. Transporter-3, SpaceX’s third dedicated rideshare mission, will be carrying a total of 105 spacecraft, including CubeSats, microsats, PocketQubes and orbital transfer vehicles,” the statement read.

The MDASat-1 launch is a significant milestone for South Africa, marking the first launch of a satellite constellation developed entirely on the African continent.

“This will further cement South Africa’s position as an African leader in small satellite development, and help the country to capture a valuable share of a niche market in the fast-growing global satellite value chain,” said Dr Nzimande.

This comes three years after the launch of the most advanced South African nanosatellite to date, ZACube‑2, as a technology demonstrator for the MDASat constellation.

“Since its launch in 2018, ZACube-2 has been providing cutting-edge very high frequency (VHF) data exchange communication systems to the country’s maritime industry, as a contribution to Operation Phakisa,” Dr Nzimande said, adding that the DSI had invested R27 million over three years in the development of the MDASat constellation. The DSI is implementing this work through the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

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Picture: Department of Science & Innovation


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