First launch of SA microsatellite in 14 years
Stellenbosch-made microsatellite now orbiting Earth
Space technology company Dragonfly Aerospace is celebrating the launch of the first SA-made microsatellite in 14 years
International investment on the ground is helping SA reach for the stars.
That is the message this week from SA space technology company Dragonfly Aerospace, which is celebrating the launch of the first SA-made microsatellite in 14 years.
The microsatellite, built at the Dragonfly facility in Stellenbosch, was one of 114 payloads which blasted off last week as part of the SpaceX Transporter-6 Mission. A further six SA-made microsatellites will be launched over the next three years to form a satellite constellation aimed at providing images and data relevant to agriculture — the first such constellation in space industry history.
Dragonfly business adviser Dave du Toit said the key to Dragonfly’s success was significant international investment into SA’s space technology sector.
“The space industry in SA has been through a lot of challenges over the past two decades where the SA government has not invested much in projects for microsatellites,” Du Toit said. “The private space companies have relied on international contracts, which resulted in satellites being built for other countries and launched under those countries. Dragonfly has managed to attract international investment that has enabled the company to achieve this milestone.”
He said last week’s SpaceX launch was a milestone for both Dragonfly and the local industry.
“Dragonfly proved themselves as one of the leaders in the commercial world in Electro Optics imaging payloads. It was an important next step to build on our past heritage and deliver a world-class microsatellite to the market. This satellite is a fully South African-built satellite and will form the benchmark for Dragonfly’s future development. Not only are we showcasing SA’s ability to the world, but bringing economic value into SA,” Du Toit said.
Bryan Dean, CEO and co-founder of Dragonfly Aerospace, said the new microsatellite, dubbed EOS SAT-1, represented a big step forward for the local industry.
“This is a key moment for Dragonfly Aerospace, and we are thrilled to be delivering EOS SAT-1 with a number of firsts — the first imaging satellite designed and built by Dragonfly, the first microsatellite to be manufactured in SA since 2009, the first satellite of the EOS SAT constellation, and the first agri-focused constellation in space,” Dean said.
Images obtained from the microsatellite will provide data related to soil moisture, agriculture yield prediction, biomass levels, and many other agri indicators. They will also support efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and promote sustainable agricultural methods.
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