The Department of Science & Technology says it is in the dark about a report that the launch of South Africa’s second satellite, the R26-million Sumbandilasat has been postponed.
An engineering daily this morning reported that Russia has informed South Africa that the launch has been pushed back from 25 March to the period between 6 and 10 May.
It adds the “delay is not due to any technical, contractual, or political problem, but simply the result of a rescheduling of programmed launches by the Russian space agency Roskosmos”.
The agency has reportedly had to bring forward a manned mission to the International Space Station involving a Soyuz TMA-14 crew vehicle that was originally scheduled for launch the day after Sumbandilasat.
DST spokesman Nhlanhla Nyide says “there is a rumour mill in Russia and our representative there has heard the rumour as well but we have no official confirmation.
“It might be postponed, but we are not sure. We can only issue an official statement once we`ve been officially informed of the postponement,” he added.
The report added that it takes some 40 days to prepare a satellite for its flight, which includes integrating the space vehicle onto the top stage of its carrier rocket. The 81kg SA Earth observation microsatellite, built by Stellenbosch-situated SunSpace and Information Systems, will be a secondary cargo to the main payload: a Russian Meteor M weather satellite.