Department of Science and innovation rolls out R18 million to space science technologies

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) has invested close to R18,9 million in the development of two nanosatellites that will be deployed to South Africa’s maritime domain awareness.

The money will be received by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). The University has largely contributed to the development of space science and technology in South Africa.

CPUT has over the years developing super intelligent nanosatellites and Cube satellites to bolster the country’s technological capabilities in engineering.

The University established that the nanosatellites are part of the solution to optimal surveillance of the waters, shipping manoeuvres and oversight of the country’s exclusive economic zone.

The nanosatellites will provide serious improvements in maritime domain awareness and security.

According to DSI, the nano satellites will be powered with Machine-to-Machine Technology in the form of Software -Defined radio Systems.  It uses software run from a general-purpose computer for the modulation and demodulation of radio signals- the system performs mass signal processing. The technology is cost effective and provides power to sustain communications.

The internet of things or machine to machine (M2M) communication will be able to deliver complex analytics and as well as dual positioning of high value assets.

The DSI adds that the nano satellites operations will be at a “much lower cost than the deployment of traditional satellite systems.”, DSI Deputy Director Liaisons – Veronica Mohapeloa.

Meanwhile, as South Africa continues to contribute to the space science value chain by developing M2M technology – the Denel Overberg Test Range (OTR) in the Western Cape is currently going development stages as a future launch facility for CubeSats.

To demonstrate feasibility of the OTR development plans – the University of KwaZulu Natal’s Aerospace Systems Research group victoriously launched two hybrid rockets at the OTR.

One of the test rockets is reported to have travelled 17,9 kilometres into the air (Aeroplanes fly at 10,6 kilometres altitude) achieving an African hybrid rocket altitude record.

CPUT’s Africa Space Innovation Centre has so far launched two satellites in 2013 and 2018. The next advanced mission is to send three nano satellites that will be placed into orbit as government plans to monitor the oceans.

To maximise on success the CPUT is in collaboration with the French South African Institute of Technology (FSATI) which will enable students to obtain dual master’s Degrees.

DSI says the support of engineering programs and investment of infrastructure towards the development of cutting-edge technologies is critical economic advancement. The space industry ecosystem is dubbed part of the high-end infrastructure sectors that are critical to the much-needed economic recovery.