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 spa...

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

29 July 2022: SANSA Space Talk

29 July 2022: SANSA Space Talk

You are invited to the next SANSA Space Talk on Friday 29 July 2022 at 15:00.

SANSA Hermanus
ISO 9001: 2015 Certification (Quality Management System)

ISO 9001: 2015 Certification (Quality Managem...

The South African National Space Agency is proud to announce its ISO 9001: 2015 certification for the SANSA Hermanus facility. 

SANSA Hermanus
Holidays Operating Hours

Holidays Operating Hours

The SANSA Hermanus Facility will be closed from Thursday 23 December to Monday 3 January. ...

SANSA Hermanus
Congratulations to five researchers from SANSA on their NFR ratings

Congratulations to five researchers from SANS...

The NRF rating system is a key driver in the NRF’s aim to build a globally competitive science system in South Africa.

SANSA Hermanus
SumbandilaSat reaches the end of its life

SumbandilaSat reaches the end of its life

The South African satellite known as SumbandilaSat (Pathfinder in Venda) is reaching the end of its life.

SANSA Hermanus
The Carrington Event - most intense solar storm in recorded history!

The Carrington Event - most intense solar sto...

The mother of all solar storms, the most intense Space Weather event in recorded history, the Carrington event of 1 September 1859.

SANSA Hermanus