SA's ocean economy gets a boost as satellites are launched into space

The Software Defined Radio payload being used in the mission aims to enhance the security and protection of South African marine resources.
The Software Defined Radio payload being used in the mission aims to enhance the security and protection of South African marine resources.
Image: CPUT

Elon Musk's SpaceX has successfully launched three satellites built in Cape Town as part of its SmallSat Rideshare Program mission.

Its Falcon 9 launched Transporter-3 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Thursday evening, SA time.

This was the 10th launch and landing of this Falcon 9 stage booster. On board were 105 commercial and government spacecraft (including CubeSats, microsats, PocketQubes, and orbital transfer vehicles), said SpaceX.

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology's MDASat (Marine Domain Awareness) constellation has been mandated by the Department of Science and Innovation to enhance SA’s ocean’s sovereignty.

The Software Defined Radio payload being used in the mission aims to enhance the security and protection of SA marine resources, said the university.

CPUT’s acting chief engineer on the project, Nyameko Royi, said increased visibility in space by more nations bodes well for all.

“This mission marks the first constellation of satellites developed and designed in Africa. The more we get people involved in space the better, the more data we extract from space, the better for the world. This is a significant milestone for CPUT and SA,” he said.

Dean of the Engineering and Built Environment Faculty at CPUT Prof Marshall Sheldon said the MDASat launch is the latest development in a long timeline of space engineering events at the university, which first began in 2008.

“Each successful development and launch is a paradigm shift away from the traditional space industry norms and we are proud to be at the centre of that. Attracting more undergraduate and postgraduate learners to careers in space science will ensure we can continue celebrating future successes.”

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