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SA buys into nanosatellite development with R19m investment

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The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) has made a multimillion-rand investment in the development of two nanosatellites, which will provide communication services to the maritime industry.

The department says SA needs more strategic and coordinated optimal surveillance of the waters off its coast, including shipping movements within the country's exclusive economic zone, hence the investment.

It says supporting space engineering programmes, human capacity development, infrastructure investments and technological innovations will also help with the country's economic recovery.

Announcing the R18.9 million investment yesterday, the DSI said the two maritime industry nanosatellites will be powered by M2MSat technology, in the form of VHD Data Exchange System (VDES) software-defined radios for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.

A software-defined radio (SDR) system, which uses software for the modulation and demodulation of radio signals, will be performing significant amounts of signal processing in a general-purpose computer.

“The technology brings flexibility, cost-efficiency and power to drive communications forward, with wide-reaching benefits,” says the DSI.

It adds that SDR technology will provide emerging M2M and Internet of things applications capable of delivering complex analytics and ubiquitous positioning of high-value assets, as well as mission-critical services at a lower cost than the deployment of traditional satellite systems.

The DSI investment was carried through the Technology Innovation Agency, to the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, an institution that is playing a leading role in growing space science and technology in SA.

The university has developed nanosatellites and cube satellites (CubeSats) over the years, which the DSI says, demonstrates advanced technological capabilities in the country's space industry.

“The development and commercialisation of the M2MSat platform will position South Africa as a key contributor of innovation in the space sector globally, feeding into the space value chain, growing partnerships with industry, and fast-tracking the creation and exploitation of space knowledge and innovation,” says the department.

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