A NANOSATELLITE developed by Stellenbosch University will be launched from the International Space Station (ISS) in January.

CPUT’s French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI) developed the radios and antennas

The nanosatellite, ZA-AeroSat, weighing in at only 2kg, is the only satellite from Africa and one of 50 forming part of international project QB50.

Project head Professor Herman Steyn said the QB50 project forms part of atmospheric modelling research carried out by the European Space Agency to more accurately predict the results of space objects penetrating the Earth's atmosphere.

The satellites will gather measurements from the lower thermosphere between 200km and 400km above Earth.

“About 20 different countries are participating in this project. Data will be downloaded from the satellites to Earth and sent to Belgium, where it will be processed,” Steyn said.

The project is the culmination of four years of work in collaboration with CubeSpace, which developed ZA-AeroSat’s onboard computer and the attitude control system.

ZA-AeroSat will be taken to 
Delft, in the Netherlands, where it will be packed with the other satellites before being shipped to the US and transported to the ISS in December.

CPUT’s director of the French South African Institute of Technology, Robert van Zyl, said they developed the radios and antennas.

"Two sets of radios, for low and high bit rate communications, were developed by our Africa Space Innovation Centre, in partnership with the Product, Life Management Cycle Centre," he said.

“A novel antenna deployment 
system was designed especially for the Stellenbosch satellite. The mechanism resembles the four tail feathers of a shuttlecock and stabilises the nanosat aerodynamically.”

He added that their communications products are internationally recognised.

“The technology used in these subsystems is based partly on CPUT’s proven space heritage that it gained through the development and operations of ZACUBE-1. The satellite was launched on November 21, 2013 and continues to operate 
successfully to this day.”

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