South Africa’s planned Space Infrastructure Hub will use space data as a development tool
Information from SANSA
The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has been awarded R4.47 billion in additional funding over the next three years to develop a Space Infrastructure Hub. The hub forms part of the Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium (SIDS) initiative to prioritise infrastructure development for economic growth and job creation, and is funded by the public and private sectors.
“This project will position space data as a tool for sustainable development, especially addressing government’s national priorities and for commercial use in thematic areas such as remote sensing, navigation, and space sciences,” said SANSA’s CEO, Dr Val Munsami.
The R4.47 billion project will include a number of satellite builds (Earth observation and space science missions), a new ground station, an expanded data segment and a new data visualisation centre, activation of the satellite-based augmentation system over Southern Africa, the development of products and services for use across all spheres of government, and human capital development and training.
In addition to the R4.47 billion funding secured through SIDS, the Space Infrastructure Hub also includes other projects for which separate ring-fenced funding has already been secured. This includes the establishment of an Earth observation data cube facility (R12.5 million), an upgrade of the Houwteq Satellite Testing Facility (R75 million), the establishment of a concurrent engineering design facility (R25 million) and a new Space Weather Regional Warning Centre (R90 million), and an R&D fund for developing space products and services (R60 million).
The project is expected to create some 700 direct jobs. Domestic access to this infrastructure will help reduce South Africa’s reliance on other countries for satellite information and accelerate data collection time-frames.
According to SANSA, the basis for this large funding allocation is that space technology, products and services contribute to sustainable development and provides many benefits to the country. The agency added that space-derived services, such as Earth observation, satellite communications, navigation, space weather monitoring and space exploration, are increasingly being used to inform policy choices relating to political, social, economic and environmental challenges.
Designated as SIP 22, The Space Infrastructure Hub is now considered a national priority, on par with the likes of the Square Kilometre Array Project (SIP 16), another major infrastructure project.