Sumbandila to Russia this week


ITWeb reports that the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) Sumbandila satellite will leave for Russia on Thursday.

DST spokesman Nhlanhla Nyide told the defenceWeb sister publication the satellite will arrive in Moscow on June 10.

It will then be shipped to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on June 17 for integration onto its Soyuz launch vehicle.

The Engineering News last month reported the satellite will likely be launched on or around August 20 along with a Russian Meteor M weather satellite.

ITWeb says the initiative forms part of the DST’s three-year, R26 million integrated capacity-building and satellite development project. Scheduled to run from 2005 until 2008, the project involved the procurement of a mission-ready satellite, research and capacity-building.

The 81kg low-earth orbiting micro satellite will generate imagery through its remote sensing camera and will form an important part of the country’s earth observation activities. Once in orbit, Sumbandilasat will pass over SA at an average orbit altitude of 500km.

The images yielded by the satellite will be used for flood and fire disaster management; enhancing food security through crop yield estimation; the prediction of the outbreaks of diseases; monitoring of land cover and use; and water resource management.

The University of Stellenbosch will be responsible for managing the project, while the Satellite Application Centre will be tasked with operations, telemetry, tracking, control, as well as data capturing. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will be responsible for its mission control.

The satellite`s launch has been delayed several times since 2006.

The DST have averred “administrative problems” for the delay, but the Mail & Guardian newspaper and Engineering News last year reported that the original delays were the fall-out of former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota cancelling a R1-billion military spy satellite on order from Russia