SA gets space agency

2010-12-09 16:34

South Africa stepped up its efforts in the space sector today with the launch of the South African National Space Agency (Sansa).

While the national space strategy document was approved in 2008, the Sansa Act was only promulgated on Friday. It paves the way to implement a multi-million rand national space programme from April 1 2011.

It was launched today in Midrand, Johannesburg, by Naledi Pandor, minister of science and technology.

“The South African space sector is ... at a critical crossroads, with a number of activities set to transform the space landscape,” Pandor said.

“The cabinet-approved Department of Science and Technology (DST) Ten-Year Innovation Plan identifies space science and technology as one of the five grand challenges needed to promote a knowledge economy. The Sansa bill has been approved, opening the way for the creation of a national space agency.”

The agency’s focus would not be on sending astronauts into space, but on the utilisation of science and technology for the benefit of society, said Dr Sandile Malinga, caretaker CEO of Sansa.

Satellites would, for example, be used to monitor the health of crops.

Val Munsami, DST deputy director-general for research, development and innovation, said at least 30 government departments, both national and provincial, were involved in drafting the strategy. They identified three key elements: environmental resource management, health, safety and security as well as economic growth.

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