SpaceX Rocket Lifts Off with South African Satellites on Board
January 14, 2022
A SpaceX rocket launch Thursday carried three small South African-made
satellites that will help with policing South African waters against
illegal fishing operations.
Produced at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the satellites
could also be used to help other African countries to protect their
SpaceX’s billionaire boss Elon Musk has given three nano satellites
produced in his birth country, South Africa, a ride into space.
The company’s Falcon rocket launched from Cape Canaveral in the U.S.
state of Florida with 105 spacecraft on board. All three South African
satellites deployed successfully.
This mission, known as Transporter 3, is part of SpaceX’s rideshare
program which in two previous outings has put over 220 small satellites
The three South African nano satellites on this trip were designed at
the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Africa Space Innovation
The institution’s deputy vice chancellor for research, technology and
innovation Professor David Phaho says “it marks a quantum leap in terms
of South Africa’s capability to participate in the space sector. As you
can imagine the issue of oceans economy has become topical globally. And
the fact that we’ve developed this capacity in South Africa, and we are
launching this (sic) satellites will go a long way in enhancing our
capabilities to monitor our coastline and grow our economy.”
Phaho notes the university has been building up to the launch of these
satellites, known collectively as MDASat-1, with a previous satellite
launch in 2018.
three satellites, there was a precursor to these current three satellite
constellation. Zcube2 is the most advanced nano satellite developed on
the African continent and it was launched in December 2018 so these ones
are basically part and parcel of that development. And they are probably
the most advanced nano satellites developed on the African continent,”
Stephen Cupido studied at the space center and graduated in 2014. Today,
he works here as a software engineer and points out that “it’s been a
ride, it’s been amazing, ups and downs but this is definitely an up
today. Just to get everything ready for today has been a lot of
And the interaction with SpaceX has been complicated he says laughing
“but it’s necessary. We are putting objects in space and space is for
everyone, we have to keep it safe for everybody so we understand the
paperwork involved but we’ve got all the information through to them.
They’re launching our satellite so everything is in order.”
The university paid almost $260,000 to secure its spot on the SpaceX
craft. It says it hopes to continue the relationship with Elon Musk’s