Africa’s most advanced cube satellite ready for launch

satelliteAfrica’s largest and most advanced cube satellite is ready for launch, authorities announced on Tuesday. (17 April 2018)

The announcement was made by South African Minister of Science and Technology Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane who took part in a ceremony at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in Cape Town to send off the satellite to India where it will be launched in July.

The 4 kg satellite, known as ZACUBE-2, was developed by the CPUT in cooperation with the French South African Institute of Technology.

The satellite will track boats along South Africa’s coasts and proactively detect forest fires through an imager payload developed by the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The satellite is the precursor to future nanosatellites expected to constitute the next satellite constellation to be launched by the South African government within the framework of its ocean economy blueprint, known as Operation Phakisa.

Funded by the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST), the project is managed by the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) in close cooperation with the French University of Montpellier, the French Embassy to South Africa and the Paris Chamber of Commerce.

“SANSA strives to grow the local space industry through product, services and skills development,” SANSA CEO Val Munsami said.

Supporting such programs as ZACube-2 enables the country to benefit from trained and experienced young space engineering experts, said Munsami.

ZACUBE-2 is the second nanosatellite developed by South Africa. ZACUBE-1, the predecessor of ZACUBE-2, was launched in 2013 for space weather research.

The experiences gained then through the French-South African cooperation in satellite engineering have resulted into the completion of ZACUBE-2.