South Africa has been given the go ahead from cabinet to create a deep space ground station right here in the Western Cape, at Matjiesfontein.
On May 28, cabinet announced the approval of a partnership between the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The new project will support future near-Earth and deep space exploration, including NASA’s planned Artemis mission to send the first woman and the next man to the surface of the Moon.
Marcus Watkins, Director of the NASA’s Management Office said, “Having worked with the South African government on numerous projects in the past, it is fitting to collaborate with SANSA on this study agreement, not only because of the geographical positioning of South Africa but more so the technical capabilities and the consistent quality of work produced by SANSA Space Operations over the years.”
The agreement between the two entities will provide opportunities for local universities and their students, especially in the areas of space communications and navigation, the chance to conduct long-term projects.
According to Dr Valanathan Munsami, Chief Executive Officer of SANSA, “Continuous research and development are vital in any industry for it to thrive and at the rate and pace the space industry is developing, it’s appropriate for SANSA to partner with NASA on this study agreement.”
The agreement is expected to benefit South Africa greatly, providing new opportunities for those in the space industry, it also has potential to contribute to the improvement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) industries in the country.