The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, has welcomed the appointment of Sandile Malinga as Chief Executive Officer of the newly launched South African National Space Agency (SANSA). Malinga had acted as Sansa’s caretaker chief executive officer (CEO) since January 2010. His new appointment was confirmed by Cabinet on Wednesday.
Naledi Pandor, minister of science and technology, welcomed the move, saying “The appointment of Dr Malinga as CEO gives the Agency the necessary impetus to begin its work in earnest. As the caretaker CEO, he demonstrated his efficiency and capability to run the Agency, and we are now looking forward to seeing the Agency flourishing.”
Pandor officially opened the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) in December last year. Established through the South African National Space Agency Act of 2008, SANSA is responsible for the implementation of the National Space Strategy, including the coordination and integration of all national space science and technology programmes. The space strategy seeks to promote the peaceful use of space, foster research in space science and communications and navigation, and promote international co-operation in space-related activities.
The space agency will have three priorities -environment and resource management; health, safety and security; and innovation and economic development. Consequently, Sansa will focus on six areas – space-based earth observation; space operations (satellite mission control; spacecraft telemetry, tracking and control; and launch support); space science (with a focus on multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research); space engineering (including the design, development and manufacture of satellites); human capital development; and science advancement and public engagement.
Malinga said last year that the agency would have four centres – Sansa Earth Observation, Sansa Space Operations, Sansa Space Science and Sansa Space Engineering.
“The space industry is now big business. It is not simply a matter of space travel. It’s also about an industry that has enormous potential future growth,” Pandor said at the launch of Sansa last year. One of Sansa’s objectives is to launch its own satellite within the next 15 years.
The establishment of the South African Space Agency and the development of an industrial base for space-related infrastructure is part of the government’s Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), which will focus on key areas to boost the country’s financial capacity and which will create up to 2.4 million jobs by 2020.
As a space physicist, Malinga has numerous qualifications to support his position. He obtained his doctorate from Rhodes University, where he started his lecturing career. In 2002 he joined the University of Natal and subsequently became the Dean’s Assistant at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) where he was responsible for the Science and Agriculture student academic support programmes. While at UKZN, he served on various university committees including the Faculty Board and the University Senate.
In 2007, Malinga was appointed the Manager (later Managing Director) of the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory (HMO). Malinga was appointed caretaker Chief Executive Officer of the newly established South African National Space Agency (Sansa) in January 2010.
Malinga is a member of the South African Council for Space Affairs (SACSA), the national committee for the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP) and has served on other prominent committees in the past.