Space Bill cleared for enactment

Johannesburg, 01 Jul 2008

The Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology has voted to refer the South African National Space Agency Bill to the National Assembly for adoption and enactment.

The committee decided to push the Bill forward despite Cabinet not yet having approved a national space strategy. The Bill has made rapid progress in Parliament and was only introduced in May after being approved by Cabinet in December.

Once enacted, the draft law will create the SA National Space Agency (Sansa), a public entity that will co-ordinate and integrate national space science and technology programmes. It will also conduct long-term planning for and implementation of space-related activities in SA.

In March last year, science and technology minister Mosibudi Mangena told a satellite conference that Sansa was a priority and mooted that it might be established by November. This later slipped to March this year.

With the Bill only now coming before the lawmaker, it is likely the agency will only receive initial funding in next year's budget. This means the organisation will only be able to start operating from 1 April 2009 - the start of the state's financial year.

Some of the projects Sansa would coordinate include the 1.5 billion euro Square Kilometre Array, the SA Large Telescope, a mooted new telescope at Matjiesfontein, and the belated launch of SA's second indigenous satellite, Sumbandilasat.

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