SA govt eyes Sunspace shares

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pretoria - Cabinet this week in principle approved that government acquire an equity share of between 55 percent and 60 percent in Sunspace.

This, according to a statement, is in order to retain South Africa's national space capabilities.

Sunspace is a private company that was set up as a spin-off of the satellite development research programme at the University of Stellenbosch. It is a provider of high-performance small- and medium-sized satellites and related systems and solutions to the local and international aerospace market.

The company has undertaken a number of space programmes including the design, development and manufacturing of the Sumbandila Satellite that was launched into space recently.

The R26 million SumbandilaSat was launched in Kazakhstan in September. The low-orbit satellite was commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology and implemented by Stellenbosch University's engineering faculty.

It formed part of an integrated national space programme developed by government to provide the country with affordable access to space technology and data. The satellite was expected to orbit about 500 km to 600 km above the earth, carrying high resolution cameras to produce images of the earth.

The information is streamed to the Satellite Applications Centre (SAC) at Hartbeeshoek, near Pretoria and is to be used in the management of natural disasters such as floods, fires and oil spills in southern Africa.

It will also be able to measure temperatures at sea and land, clouds and rainfall, winds, sea levels, ice cover, vegetation cover and gases.

The Ministries of Finance, Trade and Industry and Science and Technology are yet to finalise the funding model for the acquisition of the equity deal, a statement said.