News24

South Africa unveils space agency

2010-12-09 16:31

Johannesburg - South Africa unveiled its national space agency on Thursday, aiming to become a leader in earth observation technology across the continent in 10 years, the minister of science and technology said.

"Our combined efforts at enhancing South Africa's space capabilities will be of immense value to the scientific community in the southern African region," Naledi Pandor said.

"We believe (the launch of Sansa) will stimulate investment and the local scientific research sector," she added.

The agency, which already has two micro-satellites, will produce timely data imagery to help detect natural disasters and monitor water resources around South Africa and the continent, Pandor said at the launch.

The new agency, which aims to bring together previously un-allied experts in the field, will also seek to revive several space facilities that were mothballed in the 1990's during apartheid rule, said a government official.

R600m/ year to run agency

However, the establishment of the agency's new structures will mean full operations will only resume in April 2012.

The agency's interim chief executive Sandile Malinga estimated that it would cost the country approximately R600m a year to run the agency.

"These are conservative figures. Our satellites will be built here at home using local expertise. We are hoping that will help reduce cost," said Malinga.

South Africa joins Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt among African countries which already have active space agencies.

According to the ministry, South Africa had primarily been a consumer and a net importer of space technologies.

"There is a need to develop systems and sub-systems to support our requirements and to grow the local industry," the ministry said in a statement.
 

Comments
  • paulgertzen - 2010-12-09 16:57

    Here we go again, make us tax payers pay more for another failure. I wonder how many will be sharing the annual 600m.

      Ben Fowler - 2010-12-09 23:35

      Yes. Paul I agree with you. I think we should build more shopping malls to sell imported stuff. No need to develop technical capabilities like all the other countries that are advancing in this world. We can be a whole country of shop keepers and moan about not having jobs.

  • Pete Maddox - 2010-12-09 21:48

    Its a pity it took them 16 years to realise we actually had a space industry back in 94. Everybody has left since then

      gwyneth909 - 2010-12-10 07:24

      There is lots of space in Jo'burg. All the empty office buildings and the open parking lots where there used to be buildings. That is where the hoboes sleep at night

  • Joe - 2010-12-10 02:07

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  • psydomx - 2010-12-10 07:02

    Haaaahahhahahah.....most probably a small office in Santon with 4 employees , a fax machine a desk top that doesnt work, with a yearly operating budget of 600mil, i am willing to bet it will be overspent .

  • Lanfear - 2010-12-10 09:07

    Wow, I can't believe the negativity of the comments. This is a positive step forward for our science and technology industry. Yes, it can easily be mismanaged but so can every single other industry and business.

  • tdk25 - 2010-12-10 09:51

    What the hell is wrong with you white people commenting here??? This is a positve step forward and all you do is whine and be negative??? You really need to get your heads out of your a%&^$. You think without your "expertise" SA will never be "science" country....such arrogance

  • Joy - 2010-12-10 11:21

    A very positive thing...... as long as it is not just for humans, but also for the environment and wildlife!

  • Matt - 2010-12-10 12:32

    SA currently "import" almost all satellite based services. These services range from the supply of meteorological data to FSS transponder leasing (MultiChoice, TopTV, cell networks, ISP's etc.). It is yet unknown exactly how much is spent by the SA government and local commercial institutions on these services, but speculation is it may be running into hundreds of R millions per annum. Lease agreements with foreign based satellite service companies, usually bind its consumers into multi-year contracts (even as much as 10 - 15 years). Money is therefore "flowing" out of SA year after year, as very little infrastructure for these services needs to be created locally. On the other end, this "outflow" of money is creating sustainable jobs in countries who offer these services to countries that do not have the ability to create it on its own. These same countries then have the ability to attract and retain highly skilled professionals, while also inspiring young scientist, engineers, policy makers etc. to enter this sector. This activity then also has the added benefit of creating positive indirect economic spin-offs in these countries. This realization has been known for a while, and is also applicable to many similar sectors within SA. The demand for satellite based services are pretty much entrenched in SA, and is set to grow rapidly in the next decade (if not more). So, even though we have huge social problems that require a lot of attention, some of the goals SANSA have is to consolidate its existing pool of space related professionals, and look for ways in which to reduce SA's dependency on the aforementioned foreign based institutions. Lastly, "developing" and even established countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Malaysia to name a few, are all looking to create more "independence" from mostly first world countries. The space sector is one of the areas specifically ring-fenced to assist these countries in doing so. Therefore, it is no surprise that SA are following suite.

  • Matt - 2010-12-10 12:33

    SA currently "import" almost all satellite based services. These services range from the supply of meteorological data to FSS transponder leasing (MultiChoice, TopTV, cell networks, ISP's etc.). It is yet unknown exactly how much is spent by the SA government and local commercial institutions on these services, but speculation is it may be running into hundreds of R millions per annum. Lease agreements with foreign based satellite service companies, usually bind its consumers into multi-year contracts (even as much as 10 - 15 years). Money is therefore "flowing" out of SA year after year, as very little infrastructure for these services needs to be created locally. On the other end, this "outflow" of money is creating sustainable jobs in countries who offer these services to countries that do not have the ability to create it on its own. These same countries then have the ability to attract and retain highly skilled professionals, while also inspiring young scientist, engineers, policy makers etc. to enter this sector. This activity then also has the added benefit of creating positive indirect economic spin-offs in these countries. This realization has been known for a while, and is also applicable to many similar sectors within SA. The demand for satellite based services are pretty much entrenched in SA, and is set to grow rapidly in the next decade (if not more). So, even though we have huge social problems that require a lot of attention, some of the goals SANSA have is to consolidate its existing pool of space related professionals, and look for ways in which to reduce SA's dependency on the aforementioned foreign based institutions. Lastly, "developing" and even established countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Malaysia to name a few, are all looking to create more "independence" from mostly first world countries. The space sector is one of the areas specifically ring-fenced to assist these countries in doing so. Therefore, it is no surprise that SA are following suite.

  • FatPenguin - 2010-12-10 14:08

    It's about time. There have been guys developing satellite systems and running experiments for yonks now. It's just a matter of giving them some budget and structure. There was the whole cloak-and-dagger space program back in the "bad-ol'-days" pre-94 and I'm happy to see RSA taking an interest in a space program again. This is very important for the local R&D community.

  • Boer - 2011-05-24 20:36

    Ag please this sounds like a load of hogwash. What a waiste of money. But then again the Rand is worh crap.

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