They will join the ZA-Cube 2 nano-satellite currently monitoring the coastline, detecting fires and sending back alerts. This constellation of satellites means South Africa will no longer have to buy the data from other countries. The announcement was made when the first images from the ZA-Cube 2 were released this week.
The ZA-Cube 2, worth R16.5 million, was developed by Cape Town Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) scientists and launched from a Russian rocket last December. Its first image showed over 100 vessels docking at ports on the continent.
“The ZA-Cube 2 has an automatic identification system. It communicates with the vessels and if a ship turns off its transponder it alerts the authorities of possible illegal activity,” said Mmboneni Muofhe, the deputy director-general for technology innovation at the Department of Science and Technology.
The department would invest R27m over the next three years in the Maritime Domain Awareness Satellite (MDASat) programme. CPUT would develop the next three satellites that make up the MDASat Constellation.