Sumbandila launch postponed to Thursday

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pretoria -The Ministry of Science and Technology says it is optimistic that the Sumbandila Satellite will lift off into space within the period granted for the launch.

The launch of the much-awaited R26 million Sumbandila Satellite in Kazakhstan was postponed for the second time due to technical glitches caused by bad weather.

The country's low-earth orbiting satellite was originally expected to have blasted off into space on Tuesday, but was postponed to Wednesday when it was postponed again. It is now expected to take place at 5.55pm on Thursday.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, is currently in Kazakhstan to witness the launch and is expected to fly back to South Africa on Friday morning.

The 81kg micro-satellite, measuring 1m by 0,5m, is the product of a three-year satellite development programme commissioned by the department and implemented by Stellenbosch University's engineering faculty.

It will orbit about 500km to 600km above Earth, carrying high-resolution cameras to produce images of the surface.

The data will be used in the management of natural disasters such as floods, fires and oil spills in southern Africa.

The satellite will also monitor sea and land temperatures, clouds and rainfall, winds, sea levels, ice cover, vegetation cover and gases.

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