New antenna for satellite centre
26 March 2009
South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has unveiled a new, state-of-the-art X-band antenna at its Satellite Applications Centre at Hartebeesthoek, north-west of Johannesburg.
Imported from France, with civil engineering and construction work done locally, the R22-million antenna will enable the centre to track more earth observation satellites and increase its archive of earth observation data.
Speaking at an inauguration event on Wednesday, CSIR chief executive Sibusiso Sibisi said the council was "now in a position to acquire additional valuable data to support national, regional and global priorities, and can remain a relevant player in the international tracking, telemetry and command field to support space launches."
The CSIR has a long track record of collaboration with leading international space agencies and companies, which started with Nasa in the 1960s. Since 1982, more than 280 successful launch
support operations have been performed, while tracking, telemetry and command supports have been provided on a continuous basis for polar orbiting and geostationary satellites.
The installation of the new antenna follows the installaton of a 9-metre Ku band full-motion antenna for tracking of geo-stationary satellites for international client Intelsat.
The CSIR also won a bid to install a new Galileo earth station at Hartebeesthoek for the European Space Agency. The project design for this has been completed, and the installation should be completed by the end of July 2009.
An immediate beneficiary of the new X-band antenna will be the CSIR's data democracy project, which makes data available to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
The antenna will also support the Department of Science and Technology-funded South African Earth Observation Strategy.
Hartebeesthoek is located 65 kilometres north-west of Johannesburg within the
World Heritage Site known as the Cradle of Humankind, just inside the provincial boundary of Gauteng. The nearest town, Krugersdorp, is 32 kilometres distant.
The Satellite Applications Centre is situated in an isolated valley which affords protection from terrestrial interference.