SA has a lot to offer - Pandor

2011-10-03 21:18
Cape Town - South Africa has much to offer the world in terms of space science and technology, minister of science and technology, Naledi Pandor has said.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Cape Town, Pandor said that South Africa's development in space science is on course.

"So it is with a certain amount of national pride that I stand here today, in front of this international audience, and say that South Africa has a space programme that is not only about the pursuit of frontier research and knowledge as a goal in itself, but is also about developing all aspects of the space industry here at the tip of Africa for the benefit of the whole of Africa," she said.

The IAC brings together international researchers and professionals, including the US space agency Nasa to discuss issues related to space, the legal framework and technology.

SA has three objectives in dealing with space science, Pandor said.

Technological expertise

These include capturing a share of the global market for small and medium-sized satellite systems, improving decision-making by integrating ground-based and satellite-based systems and to develop applications for GPS and telecommunications services.

Pandor said that the country's technological expertise in satellite development was well-established.

The country is also engage in building the MeerKAT (Karoo Array Telescope) in the Northern Cape province which is a highly specialised undertaking that will link a number of radio telescopes.

This will serve as a precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) for which SA is bidding in competition with Australia.

"In the field of satellite development, South Africa possesses some space facilities that are unique in Africa. These include a satellite assembly, test and integration facility, situated not far from here in Grabouw, and a launch facility situated at Arniston," Pandor said.

SA would also develop co-operation among countries in the region on issues related to space instrumentation.

"As you know, satellites don't stop at national boundaries, and they can be used by multiple states in co-operation to address issues of trans-frontier or regional interest.

"This is the inspiration for the African Resource Management [ARM] Constellation of satellites," Pandor said.

The ARM currently includes Algeria, Kenya, Nigeria and SA, and other countries are welcomes to join, said Pandor.

The IAC is being held in Africa for the first time and runs until October 7.


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