The South African National Space Agency has teamed up with NASA to build a deep space ground station in Matjiesfontein. The site will help track NASA’s autonomous program that aims to land the first woman and person of colour on the moon by 2025.
This will form part of a network of other ground stations in the US and Australia and will help improve coverage and redundancy for critical mission support to the moon and other explorations of Mars.
‘NASA would not come to SA if they didn’t feel we had the capacity to do the work we wanted to do in partnership with them,’ said Phil Mjwara of the Department of Science and Innovation to News24.
The SA National Space Agency will establish, operate and maintain the station. The site was selected due to its proximity to key infrastructure, geographic location and low amounts of radio interference.
The country has made an initial investment of R68 million and is scheduled to go online in 2025, which is also the same year NASA hopes to return astronauts to the moon.