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

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.

June 8

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

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

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

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.

2012
June 8

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

2013
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.

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.

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

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.

June 8

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

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

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

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.

2012
June 8

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

2013
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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Ms Joy-Marie Lawrence | Board Chairperson

A lawyer with a Masters in Space Law and an Executive MBA. She is currently regional executive at EOH Cape Town responsible for strategy, stakeholder engagement, and business development. She has held various positions in the Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) sector including Commercial Legal Advisor at MTN Group (Pty) Ltd, Senior Legal Advisor at the SABC and General Manager of the Western Cape region of Business Connexion (Pty) Ltd.

Mr Vincent Gore

An electrical engineer, he heads up a number of successful start-up companies in the telecommunications and transport sectors in South Africa. He established his own business in 2009, after ten years as a politician. He was the youngest Member of Parliament in the new dispensation and served on 10 committees, including transport, communications and science and technology.

Mr Marius Rezelman

He holds a BCom Honours and is the Managing Director of PSP ICON, a business strategy consulting company. He has vast experience in designing and implementing strategic frameworks and systems for large companies and institutions. He also led numerous planning and consulting assignments within the fields of transport, energy, tourism, health and economic development.

Mr Johan Prinsloo

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, election and rural cellular networks. He has a passion for empowering Africa through the advancement, development and application of satellite and telecommunications technology.

Prof Ramesh Bharuthram

Appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) at the University of the Western Cape in January 2008, he has a PhD in Theoretical Plasma Physics and has served tertiary education in South Africa for 45 years in several capacities, including Head of Physics, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Durban-Westville. He was also Director: Research at the M L Sultan Technikon (1998 – 2002) and the University of KwaZulu–Natal (2002 – 2005). He has served on several national panels for the NRF, Department of Science & Technology (DST) and the Department of Higher Education & Training.

Mr Simphiwe Hamilton

A Nelson Mandela Scholar whose defence career started at the SA Air Force in 1994, he has a MSc in Defence Administration and has worked in the SA defence industries in various roles, including Marketing and Business Development for the REUTECH group of companies. He was also Operations Manager in F&R Diesel Services cc., Technical Coordinator in Defencetek’s Landwards Programme (now called Defence, Peace and Security Systems), and a defence analyst, consultant and project manager at Armscor’s Defence Research Centre. He currently serves as the Executive Director for the SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association.

Mr Ashley Naidoo

He is currently the Chief Director of Oceans and Coastal Research within the National Department of Environmental Affairs. Previous to his role in Environmental Affairs, he held positions in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), primarily in the applied marine sciences. Naidoo’s graduate and post-graduate training is in marine biological sciences. During the time with the Board, Ashley would like to build the relationships between space and ocean sciences.

Mr Willie van Biljon

He is an aeronautical engineer who graduated from the University of Pretoria and spent most of his career helping establish the South African aerospace and defence industry. Over four decades, he participated in most of the 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 (SAAE).

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 Leigh-Anne McKinnell | Managing Director: Space Science

Dr Leigh-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.