CSIR inaugurates R22 million X-band satellite dishes

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The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has unveiled a new X-band antenna worth more than R22 million at the Satellite Applications Centre at Hartebeeshoek.
The antenna was commissioned in September last year and funded solely by the CSIR, ITWeb reports. It is expected to bolster the council’s capacity to track more earth observation satellites and increase its archive of earth observation data.
CSIR X-band establishment engineer Pieter Kotzé says the antenna has been operational since January and is carrying more than 87% of the Satellite Applications Centre’s earth observation workload.
“There were some initial funding issues, which meant the antenna went operational later than expected, but at the same time we had to do our homework so that our suppliers would deliver the antenna to our technical specifications.”
Kotzé says the antenna will enhance the image capturing capabilities of the Satellite Applications Centre, which already has several antennas that were procured over the past 30 years.
“The X-band antenna is a lot more flexible and programmable than the older antennas we have,” he explains. “If a satellite is launched, which we didn’t plan on capturing images from, we can add the software needed for it to the antenna which is something we can’t do with our older antennas.”
A CSIR statement says the antenna was imported from France. The civil engineering and construction was done locally and the antenna was installed by the French team working with CSIR engineers, led by Kotzé.
The statement details how the X-band antenna will benefit various projects.
These include the council’s data democracy project, as well as other government-funded initiatives, such as the Department of Science and Technology-funded South African Earth Observation Strategy, and the delivery of French imaging corporation SPOT 5’s data to all government stakeholders on a yearly basis.
Science and Technology minister Mosibudi Mangena says the distribution of SPOT 5 imagery from national to local government level, academia and research institutions over the past three years has been valuable to SA.
“The antenna was obtained specifically to streamline the acquisition of earth observation data and to alleviate the pressures caused by the spectacular growth in this field of science in SA.”
The minister says he is positive about the antenna’s future and benefits for SA, and alludes to more satellite news to come, including the launch of the low-earth orbiting satellite, Sumbandilasat.