SumbandilaSat gets set to go

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cape Town - Cabinet has welcomed the preparations towards the launch of South Africa's R26-million SumbandilaSat, into space.

The launch is expected to take place next week in Kazakhstan.

Briefing the media on Cabinet's ordinary meeting on Thursday, Government Spokesperson Themba Maseko said: "The meeting welcomed the good news that preparations for the launch of SumbandilaSat, the South African made satellite into space, was proceeding smoothly."

He said the low-orbit satellite was the product of a three-year satellite development programme, commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology in 2005, and implemented by Stellenbosch University's engineering faculty.

The SumbandilaSat will orbit about 500km to 600km above the earth.

"It will use high-resolution cameras which will produce images to be used for agriculture, mapping of infrastructure and land use, population measurement and the monitoring of dam levels. The images will be streamed to the Satellite Applications Centre (SAC) at Hartbeeshoek, near Pretoria," said Maseko.

The SAC will receive image data from SumbandilaSat and monitor and control the satellite, maintain it and programme it to perform its various functions.

The data will 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.

SumbandilaSat will be South Africa's second satellite, after the launch of SunSat 1, a modest satellite built by students and lecturers at Stellenbosch University in 1999.