South Africa Launches New Space Agency (SANSA)

Sunsat1 - First South African Satellite in Space.

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa unveiled its national space agency on Thursday, aiming to become a leader in earth observation technology across the continent in 10 years, the minister of science and technology said.

The agency, called SANSA (South African National Space Agency)  which already has two micro-satellites, will produce timely data imagery to help detect natural disasters and monitor water resources around South Africa and the continent, Pandor said at the launch.

The new agency, which aims to bring together previously un-allied experts in the field, will also seek to revive several space facilities that were mothballed in the 1990's during apartheid rule, said a government official.

However, the establishment of the agency's new structures will mean full operations will only resume in April 2012.

The agency's interim chief executive Sandile Malinga estimated that it would cost South Africa approximately 600 million rands (86.7 million dollars) a year to run the agency.

"These are conservative figures. Our satellites will be built here at home using local expertise. We are hoping that will help reduce cost," said Malinga.

According to the National Space Agency legislation, the Agency’s objectives will include promotion of the peaceful use of space, advancing scientific, technological and engineering capabilities and related research in South Africa SANSA’s initial task will be to integrate the country’s varied space observatories and technical facilities, including the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) based in Cape Town, which was founded in as the Royal Observatory in 1820 as well as the High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) based near Windhoek, the Namibian capital.

South Africa joins Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt among African countries which already have active space agencies.

Learn more about the South African Space Angency: http://www.space.gov.za