Science and technology

South African satellite ready for lift off

25 November 2016

Weighing some 2.5kg, a nanosatellite designed and made in South Africa will be launched in early 2017 from the International Space Station. It will be used for research.

Named nSight1, it forms part of the European Commission's QB50 project; in total, 50 satellites from various countries will be launched into space.

The devices will collect data for atmospheric research in the lower thermosphere between 200km to 380km altitude. The data will be used to complement current atmospheric models used by operators in the space industry.


The building of nSight1 was managed by an umbrella company, SCS Aerospace Group, in Cape Town, which has eight subsidiary companies. It provides commercial satellite solutions such as advanced engineering services, decision making and operational solutions.

Working together

SCS Aerospace GroupThe core team that built SCS Aerospace Group's nSight1 nanosatellite are: (front from left to right): Dr Louis Muller, Dr Francois Malan, Kannas Wiid, Rikus Cronje, Hendrik Burger; (middle) David Brill; and (back row) Heinrich Fuchs, Premie Pillay, Philip Bellsted, Dr Lourens Visagie, Kevin Gema and Marcello Bartolini. (Image: SCS Aerospace Group)

Dr Sias Mostert, chairman of the SCS Aerospace Group, said the group was proud to be a part of QB50 project. "It presents the opportunity to showcase South Africa's ability in the space industry.

"Almost all the systems and components on this satellite were manufactured and assembled within six months with South African partners."

Those who contributed to the building of the nanosatellite included the Space Advisory Company, Stellenbosch University, CubeSpace, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Pinkmatter Solutions, the Amateur Radio Society and NewSpace Systems.

Launching the satellite will also provide a chance to test newly developed technologies such as SCS Gecko Imager as well as Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University's patented Radiation Mitigation VHDL Coding Technique.

"It forms part of a line of satellites to establish space heritage for a new generation of high performance remote sensing cameras," said Mostert. "The camera technology being tested on the nSight1 nanosatellite was developed with initial support from the South African Department of Trade and Industry's AISI programme."

Software company Pinkmatter Solutions said it usually provided its services to the international space market. But CEO Chris Böhme welcomed this local venture. "As a South African company, we are stronger by working together to provide more value to continue our success story in the international market."

Source: SCS Aerospace Group and reporter

Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using material

nanosatellite in space space, nanosatellite, nsight1, upper atmosphere, space agency, south africaIt took a team of South Africans six months to build the nanosatellite, nSight1. It launches with 49 other satellites from the International Space Station in early 2017 as part of the European Space Agency's QB50 project to study the Earth's upper atmosphere. (Image: SCS Aerospace Group)

Science and technology

From satellites to open source, from Antarctica to the Square Kilometre Array.


Helping the media cover the South African story.