Overview

The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) came into being in December 2010, but South Africa’s involvement with space research and activities started many decades earlier with helping early international space efforts in the second half of the 20th century, and observing the Earth’s magnetic field at stations around Southern Africa.

SANSA was created to promote the use of space and strengthen cooperation in space-related activities while fostering research in space science, advancing scientific engineering through developing human capital, and supporting industrial development in space technologies.

The research and work carried out at SANSA focuses on space science, engineering and technology that can promote development, build human capital and provide important national services. Much of this work involves monitoring the Earth and our surrounding environment, and using the collected data to ensure that navigation, communication technology and weather forecasting services function as intended.

SANSA’s Head Office in Pretoria oversees SANSA operations and management the Earth Observation programme (currently based in Hartebeesthoek); the Space Operations programme (formerly the Satellite Application Centre, located in Hartebeesthoek); and the Space Science programme (former Hermanus Magnetic Observatory, located in Hermanus); as well as a newly-established Space Engineering programme situated alongside the Head Office.

SANSA’s Vision is for South Africa to be an international hub for space solutions for the world of the future.

SANSA’s Mission is to lead and inspire the South African space community to create a better future.

SANSA’s ‘STRIPE’ Values are core to the visionary and innovative culture that supports the achievement of its mandate:

Service | deliver superior customer value on time every time

Teamwork | consult, inform and share knowledge

Respect | acknowledge and value what is good

Integrity | keep promises and own up to mistakes

Personal Growth | acknowledge potential and grow competence

Excellence | go the extra mile and implement tasks to the best of our ability

Overview

The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) came into being in December 2010, but South Africa’s involvement with space research and activities started many decades earlier with helping early international space efforts in the second half of the 20th century, and observing the Earth’s magnetic field at stations around Southern Africa.

SANSA was created to promote the use of space and strengthen cooperation in space-related activities while fostering research in space science, advancing scientific engineering through developing human capital, and supporting industrial development in space technologies.

The research and work carried out at SANSA focuses on space science, engineering and technology that can promote development, build human capital and provide important national services. Much of this work involves monitoring the Earth and our surrounding environment, and using the collected data to ensure that navigation, communication technology and weather forecasting services function as intended.

SANSA’s Head Office in Pretoria oversees SANSA operations and management the Earth Observation programme (currently based in Hartebeesthoek); the Space Operations programme (formerly the Satellite Application Centre, located in Hartebeesthoek); and the Space Science programme (former Hermanus Magnetic Observatory, located in Hermanus); as well as a newly-established Space Engineering programme situated alongside the Head Office.

SANSA’s Vision is for South Africa to be an international hub for space solutions for the world of the future.

SANSA’s Mission is to lead and inspire the South African space community to create a better future.

SANSA’s ‘STRIPE’ Values are core to its effective transformation into a high-performing agency:

Service | deliver superior customer value on time every time

Teamwork | consult, inform and share knowledge

Respect | acknowledge and value what is good

Integrity | keep promises and own up to mistakes

Personal Growth | acknowledge potential and grow competence

Excellence | go the extra mile and implement tasks to the best of our ability

Programmes

SANSA operations fall into four programme areas: Earth Observation, Space Engineering, Space Operations, and Space Science.

Earth Observation collects, processes, archives, and disseminates Earth observation data (principally from satellites) to support policy-making, decision-making, economic growth and sustainable development in South Africa. Their activities align with South African and global Earth observation strategies to provide data services and products that promote socioeconomic benefits, like environmental and resource management, disaster management and health. Data and value-added remote sensing services produced by the division are used for research and development, human capital development and science advancement in geo-informatics, image and data processing, and remote sensing.

Earth Observation collects, processes, archives, and disseminates Earth observation data (principally from satellites) to support policy-making, decision-making, economic growth and sustainable development in South Africa. Their activities align with South African and global Earth observation strategies to provide data services and products that promote socioeconomic benefits, like environmental and resource management, disaster management and health. Data and value-added remote sensing services produced by the division are used for research and development, human capital development and science advancement in geo-informatics, image and data processing and remote sensing.

Space Engineering develops, builds and tests systems and sub-systems for satellites. The aim is develop and launch South Africa’s own satellites, while growing the human and technological capacity for satellite development, and supporting a native South African satellite industry. Developing this capacity will catalyse a range of advanced manufacturing activities in South Africa, thereby driving socioeconomic development.

Space Engineering develops, builds and tests systems and sub-systems for satellites. The aim is develop and launch South Africa’s own satellites, while growing the human and technological capacity for satellite development and supporting a native South African satellite industry. Developing this capacity will catalyse a range of advanced manufacturing activities in South Africa, driving socioeconomic development.

Space Operations provides state-of-the-art and globally competitive ground station facilities and services for global launch activities. This includes satellite tracking, telemetry and command (TT&C), launch support, in-orbit testing, mission control and space navigation. SANSA ensures the presence of a world-class ground station on the African continent, and has been providing these services since the 1950s. The programme also conducts applied research, development and innovation in space operations and helps develop people in this sector.

Space Operations provides state-of-the-art and globally competitive ground station facilities and services for global launch activities. This includes satellite tracking, telemetry and command; other services included are launch support, in-orbit testing, mission control and space navigation. SANSA ensures the presence of a world-class ground station on the African continent, and has been providing these services since the 1950s. The programme also conducts applied research, development and innovation in space operations and helps develop people in this sector as well.

Space Science operates a wide range of infrastructure across southern Africa and in Antarctica, all dedicated to studying the Earth’s magnetic field, the Sun and the near-space environment. SANSA maintains several space science and space weather projects in Antarctica, as well as on Marion and Gough Islands, providing valuable space science data for national and international research. The Space Science programme also hosts the only Space Weather Warning Centre in Africa, providing early warnings and forecasts on space weather activity for public and private sector clients. This helps protect satellite technology, as well as communication and navigation systems in aviation and defence. These facilities form part of several global observation networks, and research at the programme focuses on fundamental and applied space physics research.

Space Science operates a wide range of infrastructure across southern Africa and in Antarctica, all dedicated to studying the Earth’s magnetic field, the Sun and the near-space environment. SANSA maintains several space science and space weather projects in Antarctica, as well as on Marion and Gough Islands, providing valuable space science data for national and international research. The Space Science programme also hosts the only Space Weather Warning Centre in Africa, providing early warnings and forecasts on space weather activity for public and private sector clients. This helps protect satellite technology, as well as communication and navigation systems in aviation and defence. These facilities form part of several global observation networks, and research at the programme focuses on fundamental and applied space physics research.

Human Capital Development is a strategic focus at SANSA, as growth and transformation of the industry in South Africa is a priority for Government. The agency also has an important role to play in growing and supporting academia and industrial skills development to ensure a sustainable and thriving space industry in South Africa.

Science engagement and outreach uses the excitement and mystery of space to create excitement and interest, increasing the number of students interested in studying Mathematics and Science at school and tertiary level, thus creating the future Space Agency leaders it needs and driving the South African knowledge economy forward.

History

Since the advent of the space age in 1957, South Africa has established a reputation for accuracy and reliability in the international space community. Today, SANSA is using the benefits of space science and technology to help grow and develop the African region.

SANSA’s official history is a short one, dating back to the South African National Space Agency Act of 2008 and the organisation’s official inception on December 9th 2010. But the roots of SANSA’s various programmes and facilities reach deep into the past, in some cases to before even the global space race of the 1950s.

As far back as 1841, there was a Magnetic Observatory operating at the University of Cape Town. That Observatory joined an international network of observatories as part of the International Commission for the Polar Year in 1932. It was relocated to Hermanus in 1940 when the advent of an electric railway system began interfering with magnetic measurements in Cape Town.

The Observatory was involved in several international space science events, which culminated in the first South African Antarctic Expedition (SANAE 1) in 1960, where South African researchers took over the Norwegian station and took responsibility for magnetic and auroral observations in Antarctica.

In the same year, the facility at Hartebeesthoek became one of NASA’s 14 Satellite Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STADAN) stations established around the globe. In 1975, NASA withdrew its involvement due to political instability and within a year, the CSIR established the Satellite Remote Sensing Centre (SRSC) at Hartebeesthoek. In 1980, the French National Space Agency (CNES) tracking station at Hammanskraal outside Pretoria was relocated to Hartebeesthoek and integrated with the SRSC. This became the Satellite Applications Centre (SAC) in a CSIR-wide re-organisation in 1989.

In more than 50 years of operations at Hartebeesthoek, the facility has overseen hundreds of launches and provided continuous telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C) services for polar orbiting and geostationary satellites to space agencies and aerospace companies around the globe, including NASA, CNES, Boeing, Hughes, Intelsat and many others.

Also located at Hartebeesthoek at the time, the Earth Observation team had been receiving and processing satellite data since the first transmissions were received from Meteosat 1 in 1978.  In the late 1980s, the antennae at Hartebeesthoek were upgraded to receive very high resolution images from NASA’s Landsat and the French SPOT satellites, as well as the French Earth-resources satellite, allowing the recording of 1:50 000 scale images for the first time.

To date, the archives have more than 150 terabytes of remote sensing data.

In 2008, the South African National Space Agency Act of 2008 was passed, aiming to bring all of South Africa’s space activities under one roof. The act mandated the formation of SANSA, and the agency was officially launched in 2010.

History

Since the advent of the space age in 1957, South Africa has established a reputation for accuracy and reliability in the international space community. Today, SANSA is using the benefits of space science and technology to help grow and develop the African region.

SANSA’s official history is a short one, dating back to the South African National Space Agency Act of 2008 and the organisation’s official inception on December 9th 2010. But the roots of SANSA’s various programmes and facilities reach deep into the past, in some cases to before even the global space race of the 1950s.

As far back as 1841, there was a Magnetic Observatory operating at the University of Cape Town. That Observatory joined an international network of observatories as part of the International Commission for the Polar Year in 1932. It was relocated to Hermanus in 1940 when the advent of an electric railway system began interfering with magnetic measurements in Cape Town.

The Observatory was involved in several international space science events, which culminated in the first South African Antarctic Expedition (SANAE 1) in 1960, where South African researchers took over the Norwegian station and took responsibility for magnetic and auroral observations in Antarctica.

In the same year, the facility at Hartebeesthoek became one of NASA’s 14 Satellite Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STADAN) stations established around the globe. In 1975, NASA withdrew its involvement due to political instability and within a year, the CSIR established the Satellite Remote Sensing Centre (SRSC) at Hartebeesthoek. In 1980, the French National Space Agency (CNES) tracking station at Hammanskraal outside Pretoria was relocated to Hartebeesthoek and integrated with the SRSC. This became the Satellite Applications Centre (SAC) in a CSIR-wide re-organisation in 1989.

In more than 50 years of operations at Hartebeesthoek, the facility has overseen hundreds of launches and provided continuous telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C) services for polar orbiting and geostationary satellites to space agencies and aerospace companies around the globe, including NASA, CNES, Boeing, Hughes, Intelsat and many others.

Also located at Hartebeesthoek at the time, the Earth Observation team had been receiving and processing satellite data since the first transmissions were received from Meteosat 1 in 1978.  In the late 1980s, the antennae at Hartebeesthoek were upgraded to receive very high resolution images from NASA’s Landsat and the French SPOT satellites as well as the French Earth-resources satellite, allowing recording of 1:50 000 scale images for the first time.

To date, the archives have more than 150 terabytes of remote sensing data.

In 2008, the South African National Space Agency Act of 2008 was passed, aiming to bring all of South Africa’s space activities under one roof. The act mandated the formation of SANSA, and the agency was officially launched in 2010.

Timeline

Cool Timeline

1932
June 8

Prof A Ogg, at the University of Cape Town (UCT), is requested to establish a magnetic observatory in Cape Town by the International Commission for the Polar Year.

1941
June 8

Hermanus Magnetic Observatory established and begins recording data.

1957
June 8

Hermanus Magnetic Observatory participates in the International Geophysical Year (IGY)

1960
June 8

Hartebeesthoek becomes one of NASA’s 14 Satellite Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STADAN) stations established around the globe

June 8

Hermanus Magnetic Observatory formed part of the first South African Antarctic Expedition (SANAE 1) in 1960, when South Africa took over the Norwegian Station and assumed responsibility for magnetic and auroral observations

1963
June 8

Joburg STADAN recorded the telemetry data of the Syncom 1 launch, unscheduled by NASA. Soon after the recording was made, all transmissions from Syncom 1 ceased abruptly and the data recorded by Hartebeesthoek were the only available of that critical period when the apogee rocket is fired to place the satellite into a geostationary orbit. The unscheduled recording enabled NASA to rapidly and with certainty determine the cause of the failure and allowed Syncom 2 to launch on schedule.

1965
June 8

Hermanus Magnetic Observatory participates in the International Quiet Sun Year (IQSY)

1969
June 8

The Hermanus Magnetic Observatory is incorporated into the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as an independent research unit.

1975
June 8

NASA withdraws operations from the Joburg STADAN station due to political instability in South Africa

1976
June 8

Hermanus Magnetic Observatory participates in the International Magnetospheric Study (IMS)

June 8

The CSIR establishes the Satellite Remote Sensing Centre (SRSC) at Hartebeesthoek with a small group of people from the Joburg STADAN station and the equipment abandoned by NASA.

1978
June 8

First images received from Meteosat 1, a European geostationary meteorological satellite, resulting in the birth of the satellite remote sensing centre (SRSC) at Hartebeesthoek.

1980
June 8

French National Space Agency (CNES) tracking station at Hammanskraal outside Pretoria is relocated to Hartebeesthoek and integrated with the SRSC.

1989
June 8

SRSC renamed the Satellite Applications Centre (SAC). Major upgrade to provide the SAC with capabilities to receive imagery, process it and archive from earth observation satellites transmitting high resolution imagery in the “X” band. This enabled SAC to receive high resolution data from the American Landsat series and the French SPOT series earth observation satellites

2001
June 8

Hermanus Magnetic Observatory incorporated into the National Research Foundation.

2008
June 8

South African National Space Agency Act is passed

2009
June 8

South Africa’s second satellite, SumbandilaSat, is launched through a collaboration between Stellenbosch University, the CSIR, and SunSpace. The SAC at Hartebeesthoek was responsible for operations, TT&C, and data capture, and the satellite collected weather and earth observation data.

2010
August 13

The South African National Space Agency is launched by Minister Naledi Pandor to unify South Africa’s efforts in space science, technology and research under one banner.

2011
June 8

SumbandilaSat loses its primary functions due to a solar storm. The satellite has completed over 9 000 orbits and SANSA has monitored in the region of 1 300 passes. The payload produced good quality images, some of which have contributed to the European GMES programme.

June 8

Minister Naledi Pandor launched the SANSA Space Weather Centre at the SANSA Space Science Directorate in Hermanus.

2012
June 8

Development begins on South Africa’s next Earth observation satellite (EO-Sat1).

2013
June 8

The new SANSA digital HF radar is installed at SANAE IV in Antarctica, forming part of an international network of SuperDARN radars which monitor the near-Earth space environment.

June 8

SANSA Space Weather Centre provides regular and high-calibre monitoring and warning to stakeholders across the African continent during the period of Solar Maxima.

2014
June 8

SANSA’s launches southern Africa’s only non-magnetic temperature chamber to help spacecraft manufacturers improve the craft navigation.

2017
June 8

SANSA installs a state-of-the-art Optical Space Research Laboratory (OSR) at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Sutherland to provide space science data to meet national and international obligations, raise the standard of South African research, supply information about the Earth’s middle and upper atmosphere and enhance scientific development.

Timeline

Cool Timeline

1932
June 8

Prof A Ogg, at the University of Cape Town (UCT), is requested to establish a magnetic observatory in Cape Town by the International Commission for the Polar Year.

1941
June 8

Hermanus Magnetic Observatory established and begins recording data.

1957
June 8

Hermanus Magnetic Observatory participates in the International Geophysical Year (IGY)

1960
June 8

Hartebeesthoek becomes one of NASA’s 14 Satellite Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STADAN) stations established around the globe

June 8

Hermanus Magnetic Observatory formed part of the first South African Antarctic Expedition (SANAE 1) in 1960, when South Africa took over the Norwegian Station and assumed responsibility for magnetic and auroral observations

1963
June 8

Joburg STADAN recorded the telemetry data of the Syncom 1 launch, unscheduled by NASA. Soon after the recording was made, all transmissions from Syncom 1 ceased abruptly and the data recorded by Hartebeesthoek were the only available of that critical period when the apogee rocket is fired to place the satellite into a geostationary orbit. The unscheduled recording enabled NASA to rapidly and with certainty determine the cause of the failure and allowed Syncom 2 to launch on schedule.

1965
June 8

Hermanus Magnetic Observatory participates in the International Quiet Sun Year (IQSY)

1969
June 8

The Hermanus Magnetic Observatory is incorporated into the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as an independent research unit.

1975
June 8

NASA withdraws operations from the Joburg STADAN station due to political instability in South Africa

1976
June 8

Hermanus Magnetic Observatory participates in the International Magnetospheric Study (IMS)

June 8

The CSIR establishes the Satellite Remote Sensing Centre (SRSC) at Hartebeesthoek with a small group of people from the Joburg STADAN station and the equipment abandoned by NASA.

1978
June 8

First images received from Meteosat 1, a European geostationary meteorological satellite, resulting in the birth of the satellite remote sensing centre (SRSC) at Hartebeesthoek.

1980
June 8

French National Space Agency (CNES) tracking station at Hammanskraal outside Pretoria is relocated to Hartebeesthoek and integrated with the SRSC.

1989
June 8

SRSC renamed the Satellite Applications Centre (SAC). Major upgrade to provide the SAC with capabilities to receive imagery, process it and archive from earth observation satellites transmitting high resolution imagery in the “X” band. This enabled SAC to receive high resolution data from the American Landsat series and the French SPOT series earth observation satellites

2001
June 8

Hermanus Magnetic Observatory incorporated into the National Research Foundation.

2008
June 8

South African National Space Agency Act is passed

2009
June 8

South Africa’s second satellite, SumbandilaSat, is launched through a collaboration between Stellenbosch University, the CSIR, and SunSpace. The SAC at Hartebeesthoek was responsible for operations, TT&C, and data capture, and the satellite collected weather and earth observation data.

2010
August 13

The South African National Space Agency is launched by Minister Naledi Pandor to unify South Africa’s efforts in space science, technology and research under one banner.

2011
June 8

SumbandilaSat loses its primary functions due to a solar storm. The satellite has completed over 9 000 orbits and SANSA has monitored in the region of 1 300 passes. The payload produced good quality images, some of which have contributed to the European GMES programme.

June 8

Minister Naledi Pandor launched the SANSA Space Weather Centre at the SANSA Space Science Directorate in Hermanus.

2012
June 8

Development begins on South Africa’s next Earth observation satellite (EO-Sat1).

2013
June 8

The new SANSA digital HF radar is installed at SANAE IV in Antarctica, forming part of an international network of SuperDARN radars which monitor the near-Earth space environment.

June 8

SANSA Space Weather Centre provides regular and high-calibre monitoring and warning to stakeholders across the African continent during the period of Solar Maxima.

2014
June 8

SANSA’s launches southern Africa’s only non-magnetic temperature chamber to help spacecraft manufacturers improve the craft navigation.

2017
June 8

SANSA installs a state-of-the-art Optical Space Research Laboratory (OSR) at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Sutherland to provide space science data to meet national and international obligations, raise the standard of South African research, supply information about the Earth’s middle and upper atmosphere and enhance scientific development.

Impact

Since it’s inception, SANSA has built partnerships with international organisations, grown capacity and infrastructure to do world-class space science research, and started work on South Africa’s third satellite, EO-Sat1.

The Space Weather Centre at Hermanus, launched in 2011, provided critical updates and warnings for African stakeholders during the period of Solar Maximum (a regular period of greater solar activity within the 11-year solar cycle). In 2014, SANSA opened the first non-magnetic temperature chamber in southern Africa, which assists spacecraft manufacturers with improving the navigation functionality of spacecraft, for example to position a satellite in its final geosynchronous orbit around the Earth. SANSA also deployed a new high frequency (HF) radar at SANAE IV in Antarctica in 2014, as part of the global Super Dual Aurora Radar Network (SuperDARN), and recently completed the state-of-the-art Optical Space Research Laboratory (OSR) at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Sutherland. This facility will provide crucial space science data to meet national and international obligations, raise the standard of South African research, and improve our understanding of the Earth’s middle and upper atmosphere.

SANSA has produced a number of Earth observation and other data products for public use or for specific stakeholders. These include an Informal Settlement Atlas, an annual country mosaic based on satellite images, a flood risk map that supports an early warning system, and a human settlements map layer that supports spatial planning and service delivery projects. The Earth Observation programme has also maintained the Online Catalogue for data discovery and dissemination.

SANSA was involved in TT&C, operations and data capture for SumbandilaSat, a weather microsatellite launched by Stellenbosch University, SunSpace and the CSIR in 2009. Despite being damaged by a solar storm in 2011, SumbandilaSat has completed over 9000 orbits, and SANSA has monitored in the region of 1300 passes. The satellite produced good quality images, some of which have contributed to the European GMES programme. Perhaps more importantly, it demonstrated capabilities important for the future of South Africa’s space programme; lessons learned during the programme are now being applied to EO-Sat1, South Africa’s first Earth observation satellite, due for launch in 2019.

Lastly, SANSA has built strong international relationships through launch support for NASA, CNES and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), among others, as well as through partnerships with organisations like Airbus Defence and Space (ADS) and Avanti Communications.

Impact

Since it’s inception, SANSA has built partnerships with international organisations, grown capacity and infrastructure to do world-class space science research, and started work on South Africa’s third satellite, EO-Sat1.

The Space Weather Centre at Hermanus, launched in 2011, provided critical updates and warnings for African stakeholders during the period of Solar Maximum. In 2014, SANSA opened the first non-magnetic temperature chamber in Southern Africa which assists spacecraft manufacturers to improve the navigation functionality of spacecraft, for example to position a satellite in its final geosynchronous orbit around the Earth. SANSA also deployed a new HF radar at SANAE IV in Antarctica in 2014, as part of the global Super Dual Aurora Radar Network (SuperDARN), and recently completed the state-of-the-art Optical Space Research Laboratory (OSR) at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Sutherland. This facility will provide crucial space science data to meet national and international obligations, raise the standard of South African research, and improve our understanding of the Earth’s middle and upper atmosphere.

Since its inception in 2010, SANSA has produced a number of Earth observation and other data products for public use or for specific stakeholders. These include an Informal Settlement Atlas, an annual country mosaic based on satellite images, a flood risk map that supports an early warning system, and a human settlements map layer that supports spatial planning and service delivery projects. The Earth Observation programme has also maintained the Online Catalogue for data discovery and dissemination.

SANSA was involved in TT&C, operations and data capture for SumbandilaSat, a weather microsatellite launched by Stellenbosch University, SunSpace and the CSIR in 2009. Despite being damaged by a solar storm in 2011, SumbandilaSat has completed over 9000 orbits, and SANSA has monitored in the region of 1300 passes. The satellite produced good quality images, some of which have contributed to the European GMES programme. Perhaps more importantly, it demonstrated capabilities important for the future of South Africa’s space programme; lessons learned during the programme are now being applied to EO-Sat1, South Africa’s first Earth observation satellite, due for launch in 2019.

Lastly, SANSA has built strong international relationships through launch support for NASA, CNES and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), among others, as well as through partnerships with organisations like Airbus Defence and Space (ADS) and Avanti Communications.

People

SANSA Board as from September 2018

Ms Xoliswa Kakana | Board Chairperson

Ms Xoliswa Kakana founded ICT-Works in 1999 and has served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer since inception, overseeing the company’s operations in South Africa and the rest of the African continent. An electrical engineer by profession, Kakana has more than 25 years of experience in the electronics engineering and ICT sectors, holding positions in many blue-chip technology companies. She is an active contributor to the evolution of the South African ICT industry and has participated in the green and white paper processes that led to the Telecommunications Act. Thereafter, she continued to drive the process of transformation in the sector through her involvement in the Women in ICT forum, of which she is founder and former chairperson. Kakana has held several board seats, and is currently non-executive director at Broadband Infraco, and ZA Central Registry (ZACR). Kakana has been honoured with a number of illustrious industry awards over the years. She holds a BSc Maths and Applied Maths from the University of Transkei; a MEng in Electronics Engineering from F.H. Giessen-Friedberg University, Germany; an MBA from Henley Management College, London; an MBA in Technology Management and Innovation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and a MA in Public Administration from Harvard University.

Mr Willie Van Biljon

Mr Willie Van Biljon is an Aeronautical Engineer who graduated from the University of Pretoria and spent most of his career helping to establish the South African aerospace and defence industry. Over four decades, he has participated in many national aerospace programmes, including the development and production of military aircraft, space vehicles, unmanned aircraft and guided weapon systems. He is currently responsible for international business development within the Paramount Group and is a fellow of the South African Academy of Engineering.

Mr Ashley Naidoo

Mr Ashley Naidoo is Chief Director of Oceans and Coastal Research within the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). In this role he manages programmes in ocean observations and science, including information systems and research ship operations. Prior to his position at the DEA, he worked in applied marine sciences at the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). His graduate and postgraduate training is in marine sciences. During his time with the Board, he would like to continue to build operational relationships between space and ocean sciences.

Mr Eugene Jansen

Mr Eugene Jansen is an accomplished technology business leader, entrepreneur and private equity investor. For more than 15 years until 2009 he was active in the satellite industry with international organisations based in the United Kingdom, Europe and South Africa. He obtained an MBA (cum laude) from a prominent business school in Europe with emphasis on entrepreneurship and business innovation, an MSc in Electronic Engineering (cum laude) with emphasis on microwave electronics and non-linear control systems from the University of Stellenbosch in 1997, and a BEng in Electronics Engineering from the same university in 1992. He has extensive experience as a director on various boards of companies in sectors such as high technology, private equity, financial services and energy and utilities. 

Ms Lumka Msibi

Ms Lumka Msibi is an innovative, award-winning qualified rocket scientist and a Senior Aerospace Systems Engineer with over 5 years of global experience, with a BSc in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand and a Certificate in Aerospace Studies from the University of South Australia and ISU (Australia).  She has held various positions in a major aerospace company in South Africa and at NASA in the USA. At the age of 24 she had travelled to all six continents, won numerous prestigious awards and spoken alongside many notable leaders. As the youngest board member appointed by a South African Minister across all government entities, Msibi brings a unique perspective to the board. She provides knowledge and expertise in engineering, strategy, innovation and technology.

Mr Johan Prinsloo

Mr Johan Prinsloo is a telecommunication systems engineer for the commercial satellite industry. He has been instrumental in implementing satellite and other communication systems for sectors as diverse as banking, military, ship-to-shore mining, elections and rural cellular networks. He has a passion for empowering Africa through the advancement, development and application of satellite and telecommunications technology.

Mr Simphiwe Lindelwa Hamilton

Mr Simphiwe Lindelwa Hamilton is a Nelson Mandela Scholar whose defence career started at the SA Air Force in 1994. He has a MSc in Defence Administrations and has worked in the South African defence industry in various roles, including marketing and business development for the REUTECH Group. He was also operations manager at F&R Diesel Services, technical coordinator at Defencetek`s Landwards Programme (now called Defence, Peace & Security Systems), and a defence analyst, consultant and project manager at Amrscor`s Defence Research Centre. He currently serves as the Executive Director for the SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association. 

Ms Innocentia Pule

Ms Innocentia Pule is a qualified chartered accountant and further holds a Global Executive Development qualification from GIBS and a Transition to General Management certificate from INSEAD. She completed her trainee articles with Ernst and Young, and served in several positions in due diligence, valuations, and risk management at the same company. In 2006 she joined Nedbank Limited as a finance executive within the Corporate Cluster, before becoming an Executive as head of finance for Nedbank Corporate Banking for the next 6 years. She served as a member of the Audit Committee of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and joined the NEF in September 2012 as chief financial officer, responsible for Finance, IT, Supply Chain Management as well as Strategic Planning and Performance measurement of the organisation. She enjoyed a sterling record of clean external audit opinions through her tenor with the NEF until her departure in July 2018. She has served on the boards of several public and private organisations, and has recently been nominated to Chair SANSA’s Audit & Risk committee.

Ms Mariam Paul

Ms Mariam Paul (Pr.Eng) is an electrical engineer who worked in the telecommunications industry for more than two decades. She is a registered Professional Engineer with an MBA, a MEng (Electrical and Electronics Engineering) from Rand Afrikaans University, and a BTech (Electrical and Electronics) from Regional Engineering College, Kerala, India. She is currently a Chief Director at the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services responsible for ICT Applications and E-Government implementation.

Ms Matsie Matooane

Ms Matsie Matooane has held senior executive roles including Group Executive: HR at Tiger Brands and GM: Human Resources at the SABC. Before a career in HR she held several positions in various functions at the CSIR, Denel Informatics and UNISA. She has served on the SANSA Board since 2014.

Ms Nomfuneko Majaja

Ms Nomfuneko Majaja boasts a 30-year career in public administration, management, academia, and industry development. She has experience in national economic policy development and strategy processes in aerospace, space and electro-technical sectors. Ms Majaja has led the development of the National Space Policy, help establish the Joint Aerospace Sector Committee, and contributed significantly to South African aerospace sector development by implementing industry interventions for the advanced manufacturing sector. She is currently the Chief Director: Space Affairs at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). She has served as vice-chairperson of the South African Council for Space Affairs since 2008, as a member of the Ad hoc Committee for the review of the Space Affairs Act No. 84 of 1993, and as a member of the Policy and Legal Committee of the Council. Ms Majaja holds a MCom in Development Economics from Williams College in Massachusetts, USA, a BCom (Hons) in Economics from the University of South Africa (UNISA) and a BCom in Industrial Psychology and Economics.

Professor Azwinndini Muronga

Professor Azwinndini Muronga completed his BSc in Physics and Mathematics at the University of Venda, a MSc in Physics at the University of Cape Town as well as a PhD in Physics from the University of Minnesota, USA. He was previously a Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Town, an Associate Professor of Physics and Director of the Science Centre at the University of Johannesburg. He is currently the Immediate Past President of the South African Institute of Physics and represents South Africa and Africa on the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) C11 Commission on Particles and Fields, as well as serving as Chair of the judging panel for Mathematics and Physics category of the Global Undergraduates Awards (UA). He reviews of academic programmes, exams, theses and dissertations, project proposals and journal articles. He is currently the Executive Dean of Science at the Nelson Mandela University and through this position he continues to play a leading role in science teaching, learning, research, and engagement.

Advocate Icho Kealotswe-Matlou

Advocate Icho Kealotswe-Matlou (LLB) (LLM) is a member of the Johannesburg Bar. Kealotswe-Matlou is a highly experienced lawyer, an independent legal researcher, policy analyst and an advocate for Space Law. She completed her LLM magna cum laude at the University of Pretoria in 2015 focusing on International, Aviation, Space and Telecommunications Law in collaboration with the Institute of Air and Space Law, University of Cologne, Germany. In her current practice she provides litigation support on a wide variety of aerospace business issues. She researches, analyses and evaluates the legal, regulatory, policy and political framework applicable to domestic and international space activities. Her research entails reviews of civil government and agency guidance documents and directives.

SANSA Executive Team

Dr Valanathan Munsami | Chief Executive Officer

Dr Valanathan Munsami was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of SANSA on 3 January 2017. He has held a number of positions within the Department of Science and Technology, including Chief Science and Technology Representative. He was involved in the Strategy and Policy development for the South African National Space Programme, contributed to the National Multi-Wavelength Astronomy Strategy and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Readiness Strategy. He currently Chairs the African Union Space Working Group, which developed the African Space Policy and Strategy that was approved by the African Heads of State in January 2018.

Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell | Managing Director: Space Science

Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell has been Managing Director responsible for the Space Science Programme within SANSA since 2010, prior to which she was a Researcher with a joint position at the previous Hermanus Magnetic Observatory and Rhodes University. McKinnell holds a PhD in Space Physics from Rhodes University and an MBA from the Business School Netherlands. She has extensive international research experience, and represents SANSA and South Africa on a number of international and national committees in the Space Science and Technology field.

Mr Amal Khatri | Executive Director: Space Programme

Mr Amal Khatri joined SANSA in July 2015 from his previous employment at Eskom as Chief Advisor: Research and Operations/Research Strategy Manager: Research Testing and Development. He holds an an MEng in Electrical Engineering and an MBA. He was with Eskom since 1999, and held numerous roles during his tenure at Eskom.

Ms Andiswa Mlisa | Managing Director: Earth Observation

Ms Andiswa Mlisa joined SANSA as the Managing Director of Earth Observation directorate in October 2017. Before joining SANSA, she was the Department of Science and Technology’s Senior Science and Technology representative to the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) based in Geneva, Switzerland, and responsible for the coordination of the AfriGEOSS initiatives. She holds an MSc in GIS & Remote Sensing and more than 17 years’ experience in various national and international public organisations as well as private companies.

Mr Raoul Hodges | Managing Director: Space Operations

Mr Raoul Hodges has worked at the Hartebeesthoek facility since 1987, and is responsible for the operational management of the Telemetry, Tracking & Command (TT&C) as well as the Earth Observation Centre at Hartebeesthoek. During this period he managed several international projects and negotiations for satellite data. This data is being widely used in South Africa as well as the SADC region, specifically the Spot 5 open access contract, which has been serving the Earth observation community for more than last five years. He has engaged with many international space agencies to invest and co-locate ground segment equipment at Hartebeesthoek to enhance the visibility of the South African role in the international space sector.

Bulelwa Pono
Ms Bulelwa Pono | Chief Financial Officer

Ms Pono attained a BCom in Accounting at the University of the Witwatersrand; CTA at the University of South Africa and is a qualified as a Chartered Accountant. She spent ten years in financial management in the manufacturing industry, before joining the public sector as SANSA’s Chief Financial Officer in 2011.

Mrs Ann Slavin | Executive Director: Enterprise Services for SANSA

Mrs Ann Slavin joined SANSA in April 2018 from the Competition Tribunal (SA), where she was Head of Corporate Services for the past 5 years. Ann was formerly with the British High Commission, where she managed various portfolios within the Corporate Services arena and previous to this ran their programme office, primarily dealing with UK-SA bilateral relationships in economic governance and reform within the police and judicial service. She has over 25 years of management experience in both private and public sectors locally and internationally, holds an MBA and is a PRINCE2 practitioner.