Small satellite symposium a platform for ideas

December 18th, 2017, Published in Articles: PositionIT

South Africa’s first United Nations Symposium on Small Satellite Technology, attended by some 140 delegates from 33 countries, drew to a close this week on the campus of Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape, South Africa. The symposium provided a forum for exchanging ideas between the continent’s leading satellite manufacturers, and also engaged international industry leaders.

Rei Kawashima (UNISEC-Global), Francois Denner (SCS Aerospace Group), Pontsho Maruping (South African Council of Space Affairs), Herman Steyn (Stellenbosch University), Sias Mostert (SCS Aerospace Group).

Rei Kawashima (UNISEC-Global), Francois Denner (SCS Aerospace Group), Pontsho Maruping (South African Council of Space Affairs), Herman Steyn (Stellenbosch University), and Sias Mostert (SCS Aerospace Group).

Themed “Small satellite missions for scientific and technologic advancement,” the event was sponsored by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, the South African Departments of Science and Technology (DST), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA).

It was hosted by Stellenbosch University where the development of South Africa and Africa’s first satellite, Sunsat, was started in 1992 and launched in 1999 with the assistance of NASA. Today the continent has eight spacefaring nations: Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia, Kenya, Ghana and of course South Africa. The symposium gave Africa’s small satellite space community a platform to collaborate and exchange ideas.

Dr. Sias Mostert, a member of the original Sunsat team and now the executive chairman of the SCS Aerospace Group (SCSAG), pointed out that South Africa now has the ability to manufacture up to 80% of small satellite components locally. This was proven by SCSAG successfully operating nSight1 satellite which was recently launched from the International Space Station with 28 other satellites in the QB50 project, co-ordinated by the European Space Agency.

The symposium has the potential to lead to better co-operation between the African countries and pave the way for a co-ordinated space programme in South Africa, driven by champions at the highest government levels.

Contact Herman Steyn, University of Stellenbosch, Tel 021 808-4926,

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