SOUTH AFRICA – Cape Town – Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi- Ngubane will help send off Africa’s largest and most advanced cube satellite this week.
The 4kg ZACube-2 has been developed by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and the French South African Institute of Technology (F’Sati) and is the second nanosatellite to be developed at the university.
ZACube-2 is a triple unit CubeSat – three times the size of its predecessor – which was called TshepisoSat.
Nanosatellites are small satellites weighing between 1kg and 10kg. A CubeSat is a square-shaped version.
ZACube-2 was developed by F’Sati’s Satellite Programme and will be launched into space later this year.
F’Sati director Prof Robert van Zyl said ZACube-2 would now be shipped to The Netherlands where it would be integrated with other CubeSats. It would make its way to India where it would be launched.
ZACube-1 was launched in 2013 for space weather research and the experiences gained then through the French-South African co-operation in satellite engineering have resulted in the ZACube-2.
ZACube-2 is a 10x10x10x30cm satellite which will track marine activity along South Africa’s coast and detect forest fires through an imager payload developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
The main payload on the satellite is an Ais (automatic identification system) receiver with which navigational data will be received from ships along our coast.
This data, which includes the ships’ GPS co-ordinates, registration information, speed and direction of travel, will help the authorities track ship traffic in our economic zone and improve the safety of ships.
ZACube-2 will also carry an advanced camera to detect forest and veld fires.
The satellite is the precursor to a satellite constellation expected to be launched by the South African government in the framework of Operation Phakisa. Future satellites will be developed by CPUT and its consortium over the next four years.
Minister Kubayi-Ngubane will attend a send-off ceremony today, along with French Ambassador Christophe Farnaud and CPUT’s Acting Vice-Chancellor Dr Chris Nhlapo. Van Zyl said ZACube-2 serves as a precursor mission for two future satellite constellations – the one for Maritime Domain Awareness in support of Operation Phakisa and the other a FireSat constellation to track fire in Africa.
The project is funded by the Department of Science and Technology and managed by the South African National Space Agency (Sansa).
The mission is mandated to contribute to the development and transformation of the national space industry, and serves as a catalyst for national and international collaboration.
A number of local partners have contributed to the mission, including the CSIR, Stone Three, the University of Stellenbosch, Astrofica, Luvhone Consulting, Spaceteq, Etse Electronics and international industry partner Clyde Space.
F’Sati is closely associated with the University of Montpellier, the French Embassy and the Paris Chamber of Commerce, through which valuable technology and skills transfer have enriched the CPUT satellite programme.
“Sansa strives to grow the local space industry through product, services and skills development,” said Sansa chief executive, Dr Val Munsami.
“Supporting such programmes as ZACube-2 enables the country to benefit from trained and experienced young space engineering experts.”