Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said the latest South African cube satellite, which has been sent off to India for launch, will help gather data to unlock economic growth in the oceans economy.
The Minister participated in a sending off ceremony of the ZACube-2 nano satellite at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Belville Campus in the Western Cape earlier this week.
The completion of the ZACube-2 satellite comes after the precursor to this project, ZACube-1, was sent into space for weather research in 2013. The experience gained through French-South African co-operation in satellite engineering resulted in ZACUBE-2 being built.
“Gathering of information today remains critical for us to be able to make decisions as decision makers. We require information that will enable us to be able to make the right decisions,” the Minister said.
The 4kg ZACUBE-2 was developed by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and the French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI) and is the second nanosatellite to be developed at the university.
Africa Space Innovation/French Institute of Technology Director Professor Arthur Van Zyl said the cube satellite was a “technological marvel”.
Once it is launched from India in July, it will help South Africa track ships along the country’s coast and proactively detect forest fires through an imager payload developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Commenting on its maritime ability, Minister Kubayi-Ngubane said the nanosatellite will also assist in addressing some needs of the Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy programme. She said the oceans economy is critical to economic growth.
The nanosatellite, which will orbit earth at a height of about 600 km, will present research opportunities for young people and women. The Minister said this was important to attract these people to the science, innovation and technology sector.
“It is exciting to see young people coming through. My team knows I get excited about women and young people growing in various sectors.
A flagship programme for CPUT
CPUT’s Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research, Tech Innovation and Partnerships Professor Marshall Sheldon said the cube satellite was and will remain a flagship programme for the institution.
The project is funded by the Department of Science and Technology and is managed by the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) in co-operation with the University of Montpellier, the French Embassy and the Paris Chamber of Commerce.
France Ambassador to South Africa, Christophe Farnaud, said the French government was proud to have been part of the initiative.
Arthur Mabunda, from Ngove Village near Giyani, who is one of the Africa Space Agency/ F’SATI engineering students involved in the project, said the team was in high spirits after sending off the satellite.
Coming from a disadvantaged background should not be a deterrent to young people to enter this field. “Even though the odds might not be in your favour, work hard and continue to dream big in order to reach your goals,” he said.