Also on board the rocket, which blasted off at 4.07am in Russia’s Far East, were small satellites from the US, Japan, Spain, and Germany.
ZACube-2, a miniaturised satellite called a CubeSat, is orbiting Earth and monitoring natural and man-made disasters in real-time.
Minister of Science and Technology Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane congratulated the team at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) that helped build the satellite, saying the launch was a historic event that represented a milestone in the nation’s plan to become a key player in space science and technology-innovation.
“This satellite will help us monitor our ocean traffic as part of our oceans economy, and also monitor veld fires and provide near real-time information on fires, ensuring a quick response time by disaster management teams.
“Science is indeed helping us resolve the challenges of our society,” she said.
“I want to congratulate our space team for great work and this achievement. I am particularly excited that the satellite was developed by some of our youngest and brightest minds under a programme representing our diversity, in particular black students and young women.”
Kubayi-Ngubane said the department had invested R16.5million at CPUT for the project, in support of Operation Phakisa, started to facilitate the implementation of the National Development Plan.
According to CPUT spokesperson, Lauren Kansley, the satellite would also monitor the movement of ships along the South African coastline with its automatic identification system.
Kansley said ZACube-2, which weighed 4kg, was South Africa’s second nanosatellite to be launched into space and was three times the size of its predecessor, TshepisoSat.
ZACube-2 was regarded as the continent’s most advanced cube satellite.
It was managed by the department and the SA National Space Agency, in co-operation with the University of Montpellier, the French embassy and the Paris Chamber of Commerce.@TheCapeArgus