Blog

Cabinet greenlights NASA/SANSA study for deep-space ground station

Cabinet greenlights NASA/SANSA study for deep-space ground station

SANSA Hermanus

Cabinet greenlights NASA/SANSA study for deep-space ground station

The South African government has given the go-ahead for SANSA and NASA to look into placing a space vehicle tracking and communications ground station in Matjiesfontein, Western Cape.

NASA has important ground stations in Spain and Australia but nothing on this side of the earth, where South Africa finds itself. When NASA approached SANSA with the possibility of installing a station in South Africa, SANSA proposed Matjiesfontein as an ideal area, since it sees very little rain and cloud cover (ideal conditions for deep-space missions).

As the American government looks to return to the moon by 2024, NASA has sought SANSA’s space operations expertise to support their future deep space missions.

“SANSA and NASA have been discussing the possibility of a deep space facility for many years, going back around seven or eight years,” says SANSA’s Space Operations Project Manager, Tiaan Strydom. “About a year and six months ago, NASA announced that they want to go back to the moon, and to do that they need more assets, especially from the Southern Hemisphere.”

Having visited the site, NASA representatives were so impressed with it that they entered into a study with SANSA to gather technical and environmental information about the site’s feasibility. The two parties officially kicked off the study at an event held at the proposed Matjiesfontein site in February 2020.

“Having worked with the South African government on numerous projects in the past, it is fitting to collaborate with SANSA on this study,” said Marcus Watkins, Director of the NASA Management Office, during the event. “Depending on the outcomes of the study, long term space communications and navigation projects could be implemented soon between SANSA and NASA.”

SANSA has been in discussions with NASA representatives including technicians in weekly meetings where they address specific questions to the site. 

“Personally, I believe that they are very serious, and I think that South Africa is in a very good position to provide the support needed for deep space missions,” says Strydom. “Hopefully, six to nine months from now we will announce that Matjiesfontein has been selected.”

“Having a NASA site in the country, and having students and learners passing that facility creates something for them such that they might look at science and technology as a career path,” says Strydom.

NASA is no stranger to South Africa when it comes to space operations, as South African personnel working at the Hartebeesthoek deep space tracking station in South Africa in the late 1950s helped gather data crucial for the Apollo Moon landing that would come a decade later.

“I am part of the team that manages the remaining facility, which was used by NASA in the early 1960s,” says Strydom. “For years and years we have used that facility with a focus towards the commercial market.”

Dr. Val Munsami, the Chief Executive Officer of SANSA, says, “Our strong relationships with international space agencies such as NASA enables South Africa to be well-positioned with global partners, which provides our country with opportunities to compete and participate in international space programmes. This contributes to the development of more careers in the science and technology field as well as the industry.”

Source: www.sansa.org.za

Cabinet greenlights NASA/SANSA study for deep-space ground station

SANSA Hermanus

The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) in Hermanus leads SANSA’ s, Space Science Programme. SANSA forms an integral part of the worldwide network of magnetic observatories and assists in monitoring the near-Earth space environment. Additionally, SANSA also provides vital information on sp...

View Profile

What is Xplorio?

Xplorio is your local connection allowing you to find anything and everything about a town.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Welcome to Hermanus
Read More

Recent Posts

Space Agency Holiday Programme

Space Agency Holiday Programme

Calling all learners! SANSA in Hermanus is hosting an action-packed December Holiday Programme!

SANSA Hermanus
SANSA Promotional Goods

SANSA Promotional Goods

We have plenty stock of caps, t-shirts and the other non-clothing items.

SANSA Hermanus
SANSA Communications Officer (2-year contract position)

SANSA Communications Officer (2-year contract...

The incumbent will be responsible for communication using various platforms to both internal and external stakeholders in a manner that reaches the target audience.

SANSA Hermanus
Vacancy: Supply Chain Management (SCM) Practitioner

Vacancy: Supply Chain Management (SCM) Practi...

The SCM Practitioner will organise, manage, control and coordinate the supply chain management function for the Space Science...

SANSA Hermanus
New Space Weather Network Extends over Africa

New Space Weather Network Extends over Africa

A new network of dedicated antennas in Africa will lend insight into the havoc that storms of charged particles from the sun wreak...

SANSA Hermanus
SA space sector set to grow with new Space Infrastructure Hub

SA space sector set to grow with new Space In...

Amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic and a financial recession, the South African government has secured funding for a number of strategic infrastructure projects.

SANSA Hermanus