Next generation technology could result in cheaper satellite communication

On 27 February 2015, SANSA will support its first Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) mission. A SEP satellite extends the length and capabilities of the space mission while reducing costs. This in turn, could result in the form of cheaper satellite services such as television and internet data.

SEP is a NASA initiative which involves high power; high-efficiency solar electric propulsion systems requiring much less propellant than a comparable, conventional chemical propulsion system. "Simply put, instead of using fuel, these satellites make use of large solar panels and the sun's energy to boost them in space," says Tiaan Strydom, SANSA's Business Development Manager. "Think of a car. When it runs out of fuel, you have to refuel it or your journey ends. Using SEP means the energy source never runs out and therefore your journey can go on and on and on."


An artist's impression of solar electric propulsion. Image source: 

SANSA paying it forward

On 21 November 2014, SANSA's Space Operations directorate handed over 10 picnic benches to the local Skeerpoort Primary School. The occasion was celebrated by the teachers, the learners, SANSA staff and a representative from the Department of Education.

In the words of actress Drew Barrymore: "School feeding not only fills stomachs, but has a proven track record of boosting enrollment, attendance and academic performance." Having visited the school, the organisation learnt that the learners did not have a place to sit when enjoying their feeding-scheme meals. SANSA is actively involved in contributing towards a better community and as a result, decided to donate the benches and in doing so; pay tribute to the late Nelson Mandela.

NMD11            NMD14

New CNES contract: one of the largest in HBK’s existence

2014 marks an almost 30-year relationship between SANSA's Space Operations ground station and the French space agency, CNES.

In 2016, the CNES/SANSA Space Operations contract will come to an end. As a result, SANSA has managed to sign an additional agreement with the CNES, in the form of a new antenna on site; as well as the hosting and maintenance thereof. The 10-year agreement demonstrates CNES's confidence in SANSA, with the possibility of extending the contract for an additional 10 years thereafter.

CNES representatives visited the site from 4-7 November 2014 for the Critical Design Review and the directorate envisages having the fully-functional antenna ready for use by November 2015.


CNS representatives together with the HBK team

Science is fun!

One of the students with a data logger kit In celebration of World Space Week, SANSA in collaboration with the Secunda Amateur Radio Club and 80 of the areas' top achieving learners; plans on launching two weather balloons to simulate the launch of a satellite. This humble man's private space mission will lift-off from Vryburg on 4 October 2014 with the aim of illustrating the benefits of project-based, science learning activities.

Christo Kriek is the Project Leader and an ardent radio Amateur radio hobbyist. "We (at the Secunda Amateur Radio Club) are passionate about space and believe that knowledge is power," says Kriek. "We are actively involved in launching payloads and then retrieving the payloads once they fall back to Earth," he adds. "The world of science and maths is exciting and the opportunities within these fields are endless. As professionals, it is important for us to expose learners to the fun-side of technology."

Representatives from the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) will set up a mobile ground station in Secunda; and make use of the existing Cubesat ground station in Hartebeesthoek, to track the balloons with the learners and collect real-time data from the payloads as they ascend. "One of SANSA's strategic objectives is to develop human capital in terms of science advancement and outreach activities," explains Eugene Avenant, Chief Engineer at SANSA Space Operations. "This mission is an exciting one for us too, as we too look forward to making use of the data captured." As this coincides with the introduction of World Space Week, SANSA envisages having a live streaming of the launch from Vryburg to Secunda; and to the SANSA ground station in Hartebeesthoek.

I-SET/SANSA WRO team through to the Nationals

Bonolo and Gopotso have made it through to the next round.

The learners from Tersia King Private School took part in the regional leg of the World Robotics Olympiad (WRO) which was held at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) on 26 July 2014.

This year's theme is 'Design and create robots which will assist humankind in solving different tasks in Space.' The South African WRO Nationals will take place at the end of August 2014 and whoever qualifies; will represent the country at the WRO International competition to be held in Sochi, Russia this November.

WRO judges2   WRO poster


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