The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has entered into a partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to host a Deep Space Ground Station in South Africa.
The partnerships has been approved by the South African cabinet.
The station, which will be based in Matjiesfontein in the Western Cape, will support human spaceflight missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
”It will be integrated into an existing network of three sites in the United States of America, Spain and Australia. As the fourth site, it will complement the other three sites and provide improved coverage and redundancy for critical mission support,” Cabinet said in a statement.
SANSA will operate, maintain and manage the station.
”The station will benefit South Africa in, amongst others, the development of scarce skills and the growth of the science, engineering, technology and innovation sector,” said Cabinet.
”It will also provide opportunities to feed the knowledge economy, and increase the national research output in space science and technology.”
South Africa is investigating the possibility of building a locally-produced communications satellite.
The satellite is to support multi-modal, augmented remote learning systems.
“As we try to find better ways to implement effective multi-modal, augmented remote learning systems, we are considering the use of Space Science and Earth Observation technologies and platforms in support of our plans to reach to vulnerable students,” Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation.
“The Department of Science and Innovation, in conjunction with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, Sentech and South African National Space Agency, is currently looking at a long-term solution to supporting the digital transmission needs for the national education system through the launch of a locally-produced communications satellite.”