The South African delegation at the BRICS meeting in Haikou, China, (back row) Amal Khatri (Sansa), Val Munsami (Sansa), Duncan Stanton (Space Commercial Services), Elliot Sibeko (Department of Telcommunications and Postal Services), Willie Nel (CSIR), James Barrington Brown (NewSpace). (Front row) Humbulani Mudau (DST), Simpiwe Mkwelo (CSIR), Fikiswa Majola (DST), Cyril Khuzwayo (Denel SpaceTeq). PHOTO: Supplied by Sansa

Pretoria - South Africa has joined a BRICS space programme, the first substantive project in the field of space cooperation between the BRICS member countries.

A statement from the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) on Tuesday said that the country had joined the the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), the State Space Corporation “Roscosmos” (ROSCOSMOS) in Russia, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) to create the BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation. 

BRICS is a formal partnership between the  five major emerging economies, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Sansa said a joint committee meeting was held in Haikou, China, on Monday, to review and deliberate on the progress of the Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation and to discuss a draft agreement to be signed later this year. 

"It was stressed that the BRICS Satellite Constellation is the first substantive project in the field of space cooperation."

Sansa spokesperson Vaneshree Maharaj said: "The BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Virtual Constellation is a practical step towards high-tech cooperation between these countries that will assist in attaining the sustainable development goals and challenges pertaining to our respective economies and societies." 

"There are two phases proposed for the BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation, phase one comprising of a virtual constellation of existing satellites, and phase two compromises of a new satellite constellation," Maharaj said. 

Sansa said phase two also provided the BRICS partners with the opportunity for space solutions that could meet the challenges faced by humanity, such as global climate change, major natural and technological disasters and environmental protection.

Sansa CEO, Dr Valanathan Munsami, said: ”We remain committed to ensuring the integration of African space-based knowledge and technology in improving the lives of fellow Africans and welcome such esteemed partners in achieving this important objective." 

African News Agency