The South African National Space Agency (Sansa) on Friday inaugurated the latest addition to its expanding fleet of technologically advanced antennae as the country continues to position itself as one of the world's reliable space nations.
"The new antennae facility consists of a new 10m Ku-DBS band antenna and an equipment room, outfitted with IOT [in orbit test] equipment and infrastructure to assist clients to successfully commission new satellites," Sansa Space Operations MD Raoul Hodges said in a statement.
The R17-million limited-motion antenna was inaugurated at Sansa's space operations facility at Hartebeesthoek, about 65 kilometres north-west of Johannesburg.
"We have seen a steady growth in the market for IOT services, and with the existing KU-DBS facility carrying a high workload for normal transfer orbit operations, it made sense to develop a dedicated facility," Hodges said.
According to Sansa, South Africa is in an ideal position to assist satellite operators with the qualification and commissioning of their new satellites, as the country has a relatively radio-quiet environment and a good geographic position.
Since 1984, the Hartebeesthoek facility has supported more than 450 successful launches, space craft supports and in orbit tests - the most recent being the launch last month of Nasa's LADEE lunar probe.
"Space is big business around the world, and South Africa needs to seize the opportunities we have to capitalise on the global market," said Phil Mjwara, director-general in the Department of Science and Technology.