SA university gears up for satellite launch

2013-11-05 12:16
An Epsilon rocket lifts off from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kimotsuki town, Kagoshima, western Japan. Japan launched the new rocket it hopes will be a cheaper and more efficient way of sending satellites into space.

An Epsilon rocket lifts off from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kimotsuki town, Kagoshima, western Japan. Japan launched the new rocket it hopes will be a cheaper and more efficient way of sending satellites into space.

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

kalahari.com

Cape Town - A satellite built by local experts is set to be launched on 21 November from Russia and it will focus on collecting data on space weather.

This would be third South African satellite, and local developers are confident that it will function according to specifications.

"Yes we are [confident], and I base that assumption on the fact that the satellite has undergone the typical environmental tests that any satellite is subjected to prior to launch," Professor Robert Van Zyl, director of the French South African Institute of Technology told News24.

Students at the institute (F'SATI) located at CPUT campus in Bellville built the micro satellite with support from the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) and the department of science and technology.

The ZACUBE-1 measures only 10cm³ and weighs 1.2kg, and it will carry out readings of the ionosphere. This work is critical to help scientists understand how the sun interacts with the Earth's magnetic field.

Purpose

"The satellite carries a high frequency beacon that serves as an active radio source orbiting Earth. The radio signal will be received at our ground stations and from interpreting the direction from which the signal is received, we can deduce the propagation properties of the ionosphere," said Van Zyl.

Solar radiation can result in disruption of the ionosphere, particularly when there is a coronal mass ejection. The radiation has implications, for example, in air traffic and GPS and TV satellites.

But the satellite has a larger purpose than the readings of the ionosphere: It serves as a training programme for graduates.

"The ZACUBE-1 mission is used as a training platform for young engineers and technologists to prepare them for the national space industry. CubeSats have initially been developed for exactly this purpose, as it provides a technology platform that is within the technology and financial means of many universities," Van Zyl said.

He added that the F'SATI has trained 30 postgraduate students and 15 engineers-in-training in the CubeSat programme since 2009.

"ZACUBE-1 will serve as a technology demonstrator. It will carry hardware that was developed by students and staff at CPUT, and which will be used in future missions as well. The ZACUBE-1 mission will assist us in improving these subsystems," said Van Zyl.

The space industry has been seen as a way to fast track science in nations and though there have been failures, the development of space research often leads to benefits closer to home.

Testing

It is expected that the development of the micro satellite which will orbit at an altitude of around 600km launched from Yasny Launch Base in Russia will spur the growth of the industry in SA.

SumbandilaSat was one of the first satellites built by Stellenbosch University with support from the CSIR, but it succumbed to the harsh space environment when radiation destroyed its computer in 2011.

Van Zyl said that while the ZACUBE-1 was subjected to a battery of testing and passed, there was always a risk that things could go wrong.

"One must remember, though, that CubeSats are built with commercial off-the-shelf components to limit cost. Furthermore, their small size usually prevents redundancy design of critical systems. These factors do pose a risk that is associated with all CubeSat missions."


- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    cput  |  sansa  |  technology  |  good news  |  space
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com 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
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Delft - 20:37 PM
    Road name: R300 Southbound
    ROADWORKS - left lane closed at Hindle Road
  • Wednesday Sir Lowry's Pass - 17:57 PM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop 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

BlackBerry Curve 8520

Wi-Fi enabled With the BlackBerry Curve 8520 connect to your home...

From R1100.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be required to travel or get information for your job. This may be restricting in some way or something may slow things...read more

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

Hello 

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 24.com network.

Settings

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.