DST welcomes launch of new communications satellite

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pretoria - The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has welcomed the launch of the New Dawn communications satellite, which will blast off into space today from the Arianespace launch site in French Guiana. 

The satellite is a joint venture between a consortium led by Andile Ngcaba's Convergence Partners and Intelsat Ltd. 

It is expected that the satellite will provide communications infrastructure for the African continent.

The launch of the New Dawn comes after the department established the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) last year. The Space Agency is building on the successful development and launch of the country's second indigenous satellite, SumbandilaSat, which sent through its first images in February last year. 

The department's space programme will strengthen South Africa's technological capabilities in satellite engineering and provide training and Earth-observation data for a wide range of applications. 

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said: "The launch of the New Dawn will complement the DST space programme and in time we will seek partnerships with the private sector in the area of satellite communication, Earth observation and in international space-related activities."

Dr Sandile Malinga, CEO of SANSA, said the launch highlighted the vast possibilities in store for the South African commercial space industry. "SANSA congratulates convergence partners on this great achievement and is committed to promoting increased collaboration with South Africa's space industry."

SANSA Space Operations, formerly known as the CSIR Satellite Applications Centre, together with Australia and the USA, are part of a network of ground stations offering support to the mission. 

SANSA has already offered network checkout/dress rehearsal services to this mission, and will continue with transfer orbit support services and in-orbit testing, for approximately two weeks after the launch.