SA postpones satellite launch


More time is needed to convert the satellite to a remote sensing system, government says.The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has postponed the launch of the country`s first state-funded satellite.

The 80kg micro-satellite, named Sumbandila, Venda for "lead the way", was to be fired into space just before Christmas, but the launch window has now been moved to between 29 April and 5 May.

The DST says the decision was taken to gain time to convert SumbandilaSat from a technology demonstrator to a fully operational remote sensing system. “The elements of the system that need to be developed are a full mission control system, a product generation system for image processing, as well as further applications for the communication payload,” the department said in a statement.

The DST added that the “opportunity to develop and deploy the complete mission infrastructure is welcomed by all stakeholders and will ensure that user groups can expect to utilise data from SumbandilaSat shortly after the launch”. It says another positive implication of the postponement of the launch is that there is a better chance of the actual launch event not being postponed due to bad weather – Christmas being midwinter in that part of the world.

SunSpace and Information Systems built SumbandilaSat under contract from the University of Stellenbosch for the DST.

It is to be launched from a nuclear-powered Russian submarine in the Barents Sea, near the North Pole.

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