Sophisticated cube satellite to unlock economic growth

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says the cube satellite, which has been sent off to India for launching into space, will help gather data to unlock economic growth in the oceans economy.

The Minister participated in a sending off ceremony of the ZACube-2 nano satellite at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Belville Campus in the Western Cape on Tuesday.

The completion of the ZACube-2 satellite comes after the precursor to this project, the ZACube-1, was launched into space for weather research in 2013. The experiences gained then through the French-South African cooperation in satellite engineering resulted in the completion of ZACUBE-2.

“Gathering of information today remains critical for us to be able to take decisions as decision makers. We require information that will enable us to be able to make the right decisions,” she said.

The 4kg ZACUBE-2 has been developed by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and the French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI) and is the second nanosatellite to be developed at the university. 

Africa Space Innovation/French Institute of Technology Director Professor Arthur Van Zyl said the cube satellite is a “technological marvel”.

Once it is launched from India in July, it will help South Africa track boats along the country’s coast and proactively detect forest fires through an imager payload developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Commenting on its maritime ability, Minister Kubayi-Ngubane said the nanosatellite will also assist in addressing the needs of the Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy programme. She said the oceans economy is critical to economic growth.

The nanosatellite, which will orbit earth at about 600 kilometers, will present research opportunities for young people and women. The Minister said this was important to ensure a drive to attract these population groups to the science, innovation and technology sector.

“It is very exciting to see young people coming through … my team knows I get excited about women and young people growing in various sectors. It is such an exciting thing because without us paying attention to these two categories, South Africa would be worse off,” the Minister said.

A flagship programme for CPUT

CPUT’s Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research, Tech Innovation and Partnerships Professor Marshall Sheldon said the cube satellite will remain a flagship programme for the institution.

The project is funded by the Department of Science and Technology and is managed by the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) in close cooperation with the University of Montpellier, the French Embassy and the Paris Chamber of Commerce.

France Ambassador to South Africa, Christophe Farnaud, said the French government was very proud to have been part of the initiative.

Arthur Mabunda, from Ngove Village near Giyani, who is one of the Africa Space Agency/ F’SATI engineering students involved in the project, said the team was in high spirits after sending off the satellite.

Coming from a disadvantaged background should not be a deterrent to young people to enter this field. “Even though the odds might not be in your favour, work hard and continue to dream big in order to reach your goals,” he said.

SA Agency for Science and Technology Managing Director Dr Jabu Nukeri said a competition to name the satellite is open for learners from Grade 4 to Grade 12.

The closing date for entries is 20 May 2018. –


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