Faizel Patel – 09/07/2020
The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) says South Africa is expected to be at the forefront of deep space exploration after reports that the Western Cape could soon be hosting a communications centre that would help humanity make its next giant leap into space.
The area around Matjiesfontein has been identified as a possible location for a deep space ground station which is a series of satellite dishes that form part of an integrated network designed for seamless communication with deep space mission, the likes of those which would go to the moon or Mars.
There are similar stations around the world, but only one other one in the southern hemisphere and that’s in Australia.
Dr Pieter Kotze from the South African National Space Agency says they have collaborated with the National Aeronautics and Spade Administration (NASA) in the US on the communications centres.
“There are three stations from Nasa. These stations are designed specifically to monitor or to receive information and data from satellites that are more than 16,000km above the earth.”
Kotze says the whole project is being paid for by Nasa.
“The benefit that we will gain from that for South Africa in general is that we will be automatically be at the forefront of space exploration that’s going to take place in the next decade or so.”
Kotze says while they have not had much interactions with the first South African in space Mark Shuttleworth and South African born CEO of Space X, Elon Musk, Shuttleworth has made a huge contribution to a science outreach institution in Hermanus.
Listen to the interview with Dr. Pieter Kotze