On Thursday, 3 November 2022, a ceremony was held in Hermanus to officially open the state-of-the-art facility for the development of South African National Space Agency (SANSA) space weather centre capability.
This development has been a 3-year project that was successfully concluded with the launch of the capability at this prestigious function. It included infrastructure development, instrumentation deployment, product and service development, and skills capability development.
Overstrand Executive Mayor, Dr Annelie Rabie, Deputy Mayor Lindile Ntsabo and the Executive Mayor of the Overberg District Municipality, Sakkie Franken, were among the dignitaries who joined SANSA Board Chairperson, Patrick Ndlovu, SANSA CEO, Andiswa Mlisa, SANSA Managing Director for Space Science, Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell, and various officials from the Ministry and the Department of Science and Innovation.
SANSA contributes significantly to the national economy and job creation through various projects such as satellite development and testing for various space missions, big data platforms like data visualisation centres, the activation of a satellite-based augmentation system over southern Africa, and the development of the required human talent.
Examples of this important economic role of SANSA include its work in the agricultural economy through the use of open and Big data for vegetation condition and stress monitoring, crop and other vegetation assessment, estimation of cropped arable land and production area statistics, above-ground biomass and yield estimation and agricultural drought assessment and monitoring.
The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, said the space weather capability is a direct response to the good safety track record that led to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) selecting SANSA as one of the two regional centres to provide space weather services, including solar storm forecasts and warnings to the global aviation sector.
“Our total investment in this capability amounted to R107.5 million over the three years which included a ring-fenced establishment grant of R70.89 million received from my Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and R 36.6 million invested directly by SANSA from this Hermanus facility,” the Minister said.
In her vote of thanks address, Mayor Rabie said there are a number of organisations that were instrumental players in making this dream a reality and on behalf of SANSA and the Overstrand Municipality she thanked them with much appreciation.