New South African Space Agency

December 10, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Space Law | 1 Comment

by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

Source – Red Orbit:

South Africa Unveils National Space Agency

Posted on: Thursday, 9 December 2010, 13:27 CST

The minister of science and technology said that South Africa unveiled its national space agency on Thursday, aiming to become a leader in earth observation technology across the continent in 10 years.

“Our combined efforts at enhancing South Africa’s space capabilities will be of immense value to the scientific community in the Southern African region,” Naledi Pandor said, as quoted by the AFP news agency. . . . [Full Story]

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  1. Congratulations to South Africa on wanting to develop an indigenous space industry! I believe its initial focus on developing its own technological capabilities with an initial African-centric focus is also correct.

    If I might add a couple of thoughts, from someone who’s been in NASA the last 36 years:

    1. Don’t be afraid to consider expanding your horizons; sometimes it can be done at very little effort but with very high payoff or at least high visibility. For example:
    – many nations are sending spacecraft to the moon now; and they always like to cooperate with other nations to carry an instrument or two. The same type of technology needed for earth resources can often to put to work in such instruments as well, and can be highly satisfying to the people working on them. India, Europe, Japan, China, and the US have all carried the instruments of other countries to the Moon; some to Mars, and beyond.
    their is a burgeoning private-sector lunar industry starting up that is trying to do things like that at much lower cost. Things like the Google Lunar Xprize currently under competition have many serious competitors, including from non-US companies and in partnerships.
    Continuing on…. – protecting Earth from impact of Near-Earth asteroids: South Africa can play a significant role because of its history – and its location. Looking for NEAs requires automated telescopes and advanced software located all over Earth; but most are in the northern hemisphere. Joining a possible such Earth Protection network could be as simple for the new space agency as sponsoring a single small automated telescope through a South African university. And it would automatically plug such researchers into their counterparts in the US and elsewhere. It also would help to close the loop of Earth\’s history in a way: South Africa, as with other mining-rich areas around the world (eg Sudbury in Canada) owes its mineral riches to being an ancient asteroid impact site.

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