South African nanosatel­lite suc­cess­fully launched into or­bit

The New Age (Free State) - - INSIDE1 - TNA RE­PORTER

WEIGH­ING just 2.5kg, SA’s first pri­vately owned nanosatel­lite, nSight1, has been suc­cess­fully sent into or­bit from the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion (ISS). De­ployed last Wed­nes­day, nSight1 will or­bit the Earth and cap­ture images with a re­mote sens­ing cam­era.

Lo­cally de­signed and built by SCS Space, a mem­ber of the SCS Aero­space Group, nSight1 was built in six months us­ing all the avail­able space in­fras­truc­ture in South Africa.

It is the first time a pri­vate com­pany in Africa has in­vested in build­ing and launch­ing a satel­lite, the Depart­ment of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy said yes­ter­day.

“The satel­lite is an im­por­tant mile­stone, demon­strat­ing the out­come of the ca­pa­bil­ity es­tab­lished through the depart­ment’s on­go­ing in­vest­ment in the space pro­gramme. More than 70% of the satel­lite is made up of com­po­nents sup­plied by en­ter­prises in the South African space in­dus­try,” Mm­bo­neni Muofhe, deputy direc­tor- gen­eral for tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion, said.

SA has been in­volved in space re­search and tech­nol­ogy for 50 years. The first lo­cally de­signed and man­u­fac­tured satel­lite, Sun­sat, was launched in 1999. NSight1’s de­ploy­ment fol­lows the suc­cess­ful launch of South African satel­lites since the late nineties, in­clud­ing Sun­sat (1999), Sum­bandi­laSat (2009) and the Cape Penin­sula Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy’s ZACube-1 satel­lite (2013).

NSight1 was part of a batch of 28 nanosatel­lites from 23 dif­fer­ent coun­tries, launched on April 18 from Cape Canaveral in Florida, US.

The main ob­jec­tives of nSight1’s mis­sion are to demon­strate a patented cod­ing tech­nique de­vel­oped at Nel­son Man­dela Met­ro­pol­i­tan Univer­sity and to show­case the space ca­pa­bil­i­ties of pri­vate com­pa­nies in SA.

The nSight1 nanosatel­lite is part of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s QB50 project, which is aimed at de­sign­ing and de­ploy­ing a net­work of satel­lites to study the largely un­ex­plored lower ther­mo­sphere.

The Von Kar­man In­sti­tute for Fluid Dy­nam­ics in Bel­gium is the lead in­sti­tute for the QB50 project con­sor­tium.

The SCS Space ground op­er­a­tions team will be re­spon­si­ble for the mis­sion con­trol of the satel­lite.

This process in­volves the es­tab­lish­ment of con­tact and a com­mu­ni­ca­tion link with the nanosatel­lite from the new ground sta­tion sit­u­ated near Houwteq in Grabouw.

Hen­drik Burger, CEO of SCS Space, said the com­pany was de­lighted to be part of an in­ter­na­tional project that has put South Africa on the in­ter­na­tional satel­lite map.

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