SA firm aims for space

2010-10-11 08:53
A model of a Marcom space vehicle is displayed at the Observatory in Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

A model of a Marcom space vehicle is displayed at the Observatory in Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - While South Africans gaze at the stars, at least one company believes that we can reach them, and has a plan to launch SA into space by 2015.

"We have to get involved in space. Once you have the technology, you can sell the technology - obviously to the right people," Marcom managing director Mark Comninos told News24 at the South African Space Association's first annual conference in Cape Town.

The conference, held during International Space Week, seeks to bring together astronomy and space professionals to collaborate, said organiser Carla Sharpe.

Comninos is convinced that SA has the potential to develop commercial space flight and believes that the success of satellite projects like SumbandilaSat illustrates that SA can create a space industry.

"We've calculated about R5m for the development engine and about R250m to get to space by 2015," said Comninos.

Foreign services

He is focused on the South African market and would like companies like MultiChoice to invest in satellite development.

"We interested in several markets, but we'll focus on the local market first. It would be ideal if a company that delivers direct to home TV services like MultiChoice invests in this."

He said that because a large percentage of these TV services are dependent on foreign satellites, companies who invested in launch capability could not only help foster national pride, but also save money in the longer term.

He did not rule out foreign funding for his ambitious project.

"Foreign funding is fine, but it will have to be approved first," said Comninos.

He insisted though, that developing local space launching capability could improve nation building, spur technological development and put SA in a position to drive economic growth from a launch programme in Africa.

"I'm an engineer and I remember seeing the first launch of the space shuttle and I thought: That’s what I want to do. And we can inspire the next generation of engineers."


His plan may sound ambitious, even though scientists at the CSIR's Satellite Application Centre seem to contradict him.

Earth Observation Manager Corne Eloff told News24 recently that it would take about 20 years to establish South Africa's launch programme, but they nevertheless have ambitions for local space launches.

"My dream is to say South Africa can create an (space) industry. We can create prestige on the African continent to stimulate our bright engineers or we'll lose them," said Eloff.

Comninos, though, remains bullish about the prospect for a South African launch programme, hinting that being a producer may hold long term benefits.

"It's better to build the iPhone than buy the iPhone."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
- News24
Read more on:    csir  |  technology  |  space

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!

Find out who and what South Africans were most curious about in 2014!


I love summer.24

This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem
The world's least visited destination is breathtaking!
LOL treadmill fail!
Google’s top searches of 2014

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go! - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.