SA satellite finally lifts off

2009-09-18 08:12
Cape Town - South Africa's first government-owned satellite was successfully launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday at 17:55 South African time, after two delays earlier in the week due to bad weather and a technical glitch.

The 81kg micro-satellite called SumbandilaSat, which means "to lead the way" in Venda, piggybacked on a Russian Soyuz rocket. (The rocket was blast off by Russian space agency Roscosmos to launch a Russian weather satellite called Meteor.)

The R26m satellite will orbit 500 kilometres above the equator and pass over South Africa four times a day, in order to collect images for use by government in agriculture, water management, urban planning and other domains.

SumbandilaSat has been developed by SunSpace & Information Systems, a Stellenbosch-based company which also launched SA's first satellite SunSat, a project by the University of Stellenbosch, in 1999.

While SumbandilaSat would serve South Africa first and foremost, it can also be used to view "any part of southern Africa or the world", Khalid Manjoo, team leader for assembly, integration and testing at SunSpace & Information Systems told German Press Agency DPA.

According to Manjoo, South Africa's ultimate aim was the creation of a constellation of satellites for disaster management in Africa.

"This would be a technology demonstrator," he said.

The satellite's main imager, which has multispectral imaging (views light in different spectral bands) has a ground resolution of 6.25m, meaning it can identify any object that is 6.25m long.
 

Read more on:    technology  |  satellites
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