After years of waiting and delays in its launch earlier this week, the Sumbandila satellite finally lifted off into orbit.
The Department of Science and Technology’s patience with its Russian space partner, Roskosmos, finally paid off yesterday as the SumbandilaSat was launched ending its wait since December 2006, ITWeb reports.
The 81kg micro-satellite blasted into space at exactly 5.55pm from Baikonour, in Kazakhstan, aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. The launch was scheduled for 15 September, but this was delayed, with the Russians citing bad weather and technical glitches. It was then moved to 16 September, with technical glitches cited as the reasons for the delay.
Science and technology minister Naledi Pandor, who was in Kazakhstan to witness the event, said the satellite would pave the way for important developments locally.
“We look forward to implementing our space strategy so that we can join other nations in exploring the myriad possibilities presented by scientific and technological research.”
The satellite carries a high-resolution camera that will produce images for use in monitoring agriculture, mapping infrastructure and land use, tracking population movement, and measuring the water levels of dams.
Director-general of science and technology Phil Mjwara said the launch reinforced SA’s role in national, regional and international space initiatives.
“This is a momentous occasion, not just for the Department of Science and Technology and its partners and stakeholders, but also for the people of SA. This launch is a milestone in our efforts to develop and enhance space science and technology in our country.”
Data will be streamed to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Satellite Applications Centre (SAC), at Hartbeeshoek, near Pretoria, for analysis and policy development purposes. The SAC will carry out command and communication functions by tracking the satellite using a large dish antenna.
In addition to the camera, the satellite carries a secondary communication payload from the Department of Communications and experimental payloads for the scientific community in the areas of low-frequency radio waves, radiation, software defined radio, forced vibrating string and radio amateur transponder.
Pic: Sumbandila satellite