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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Given the creation of SA's Space Agency, this thread is dedicated to SA space-related news and developments, including the Square Kilometre Array [SKA] (until it gets its own thread, if SA's bid to host this massive initiative beats Australia).
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
South Africa unveils space agency

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA Dec 09 2010 16:42

South Africa unveiled its national space agency on Thursday, aiming to become a leader in earth observation technology across the continent in 10 years, the minister of science and technology said.

"Our combined efforts at enhancing South Africa's space capabilities will be of immense value to the scientific community in the Southern African region," Naledi Pandor said.

"We believe [the launch of the South African National Space Agency] will stimulate investment and the local scientific research sector," she added.

The agency, which already has two micro-satellites, will produce timely data imagery to help detect natural disasters and monitor water resources around South Africa and the continent, Pandor said at the launch.

The new agency, which aims to bring together previously unallied experts in the field, will also seek to revive several space facilities that were mothballed in the 1990s during apartheid rule, said a government official.

However, the establishment of the agency's new structures mean full operations will only resume in April 2012.

Local expertise

The agency's interim chief executive, Sandile Malinga, estimated that it would cost South Africa approximately R600-million a year to run the agency.

"These are conservative figures. Our satellites will be built here at home using local expertise. We are hoping that will help reduce cost," said Malinga.

South Africa joins Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt among African countries that already have active space agencies.

According to the ministry, South Africa had primarily been a consumer and a net importer of space technologies.

"There is a need to develop systems and sub-systems to support our requirements and to grow the local industry," the ministry said in a statement. -- AFP


http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-12-09-south-africa-unveils-space-agency
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Pandor opens space centre

Written by defenceWeb
Monday, 13 December 2010 15:27

Minister of Science & Technology Naledi Pandor says the opening of Space Weather Centre at the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory (HMO) in the southern Western Cape is an additional landmark in South Africa's attempt “to strengthen the space sector, with a view to leveraging the benefits of space science and technology for socio-economic growth and sustainable development.”

She said Friday space science and technology was one area of scientific endeavour on which the Department of Science and Technology (DST) chose to focus in 2008. “The field of space science and technology is one in which a number of government departments have an interest. We know the strengths of the local space industry. We know that we need to improve our capacity. We want to improve South Africa’s global position in the space sector,” she said. “We drafted a policy and then a strategy, with input from a number of government departments, in order to guide our efforts in this direction.”

Pandor said the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) Act was passed in December 2008 “and since then the DST has moved full speed towards the establishment of the National Space Agency. Our medium-term goal is for our country to have a fully operational space programme within the next five years, and to be globally positioned within 10 years.

“There is another important and connected strategy – the South African Earth Observation Strategy (SAEOS). SAEOS coordinates the collection, processing and dissemination of Earth observation data so that they can be fully used to support policy, decision-making, economic growth and sustainable development in South Africa. Both the National Space Strategy and SAEOS complement each other and will help many government departments fulfill their mandates.”

The minister told her audience the launch of the Space Weather Centre spoke directly to South Africa's space science and technology “grand challenge”.

“This Centre will contribute essential information for global space science and technology, as well as forecasts and predictions to protect our growing and future satellite industry. More specifically, it will provide a service to the Earth observation, communications, navigation, defence and engineering sectors,” she added. “In addition to this, the Space Weather Centre will contribute towards other grand challenges, such as the Energy Security grand challenge, through its potential to develop a skills base and stimulate interest and desire among young people to take part in science and technology.

“This project will position our country as a leader in Space Weather for the African continent, allowing for the development of projects that will create parallel initiatives between different African countries, and provide us with a leading focus area for joint collaborations. There is already a possible Space Weather satellite collaboration between India, Brazil and South Africa, which will proceed in the context of the IBSA Space Weather satellite,” she said.

Work on the centre began in May and finished last month. It is now one thirteen Regional Warning Centres (RWCs) around the world and part of International Space Environment Service (ISES) that has the mission to encourage and facilitate international monitoring and prediction of the space environment so that the impact of space weather on human activities is reduced.

Space weather forecasting and observing involves the monitoring of weather conditions such as magnetic fields, solar winds, radiation, solar flares, meteorites etcetera. It is important because things like solar flares can affect communications on Earth and damage electronics aboard spacecraft, Pandor’s office avers.

The HMO is currently a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF) that is part of the DST. It will in the next year migrate to SANSA, oficially launched Thursday after a delay of some two months. The National Space Strategy was approved by Cabinet in 2008 and would have been announced at the Africa Aerospace and Defence show that year, but this was postponed. It was also launched Thursday.

SANSA will become the umbrella body that will co-ordinate the Space Weather Centre, together with other space-related projects such as the Square Kilometre Array, Southern African Large Telescope and SumbandilaSat. SANSA will also integrate South Africa’s existing science and technology institutions, such as the Satellite Applications Centre of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).


http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.p...ns-space-centre&catid=35:Aerospace&Itemid=107
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
SKA bid gains momentum with scientific breakthroughs – DST

By: Petronel Smit
18th February 2011

Africa’s bid to build and host the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) telescope is gaining momentum with significant scientific breakthroughs, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) said on Friday.

The DST reported that South Africa had, for the first time, completed the experiment of the “detection of fringes” in a joint very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) observation, without assistance from other countries.

The 26 m Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO), near Pretoria, teamed up with one of the seven 12 m dishes currently part of the Karoo Array Telescope (KAT-7), over 900 km away, to jointly observe and record data from a distant radio source known as 3C273.

The data was then correlated in Cape Town to produce the first-ever African fringe detection, at its first attempt.

South Africa SKA project director Dr Bernie Fanaroff said that the VLBI was significant as it is used for imaging distant cosmic radio sources, spacecraft tracking, and for applications in astrometry.

“However, it can also be used in reverse to perform earth rotation studies, map movements of tectonic plates within millimetres, and other types of geodesy,” he noted.

Further to the fringe detection breakthrough, South African engineers have also built the building block for the next generation of digital processing systems.

Fanaroff explained that the reconfigurable open architecture computing hardware (ROACH) board was primarily a South African development and already in use in 300 high-technology facilities globally. However, ROACH-2 prototypes were much faster and more powerful.

“To put such computing speed and capacity in astronomy in perspective, the SKA is expected to collect more data in one week than humankind has collected in its entire history,” he added.

The leap forward in technology largely resulted from advances in field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology. Progress in FPGA was set to hold for another four generations, which made future iterations of ROACH likely in the next few years.

Fanaroff pointed out that this was all essential preparation for the SKA project.

“SKA will revolutionise science. It will be the world’s largest radio telescope and probably capable of answering questions that we haven’t even though to ask yet,” he noted.

Expected scientific discoveries range from understanding the cosmic web of neutral gas, which would unravel how the first stars and black holes were formed. It would track galaxies to investigate the rate of expansion of the universe and possibly identify the nature of dark energy.

It would also produce three-dimensional galactic maps and detect extremely weak extra-terrestrial signals and pinpoint planets capable of supporting life.

Fanaroff added that the SKA would allow for the study of gravity, which could possibly lead to the theory of relativity being challenged. Pulsars, the collapsed spinning cores of dead stars, would also be monitored, providing information on gravitational waves and black holes.

“In 2011, South Africa, in conjunction with its eight African-partner countries bidding communally for the SKA, will pull out all the stops to show the world that Africa is the future as far as science and technology are concerned,” he said.

South Africa and Australia are the two countries shortlisted to host the SKA – a decision is expected to be made next year. The SKA will be fully operational by 2024.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb

http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/ar...-with-scientific-breakthroughs-dst-2011-02-18
 

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Lead SA is flighting an advert on Highveld, 702 and Cape Talk encouraging South Africans to get behind our SKA bid.

With out a doubt, this is the most significant and important international project South Africa is working towards at the moment. Absolutely massive. I wish it was getting more publicity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Cross-post from aviation thread...

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Space flight for R626000
Durban agency offers tickets for spaceship flips
Mar 1, 2011 9:25 PM
By NIVASHNI NAIR

Tickets from South Africa's first space travel agency are now on sale - a snip at R626000 each.

A Durban company, Orbital Horizon, owned by Brad Inggs, 30, has become the first African space tourism agent to offer tickets for travel aboard a new suborbital spaceship.

Inggs said yesterday that his company was open for business and ready to sell a ticket to the "individual who wants more".

In December, Inggs signed a deal with US company Xcor Aerospace that allows him to sell tickets in Africa to people who want to travel aboard Xcor's two-seater Lynx spaceship.

Unlike Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which offers tickets at R2-million each, Xcor Aerospace's price was "affordable", Inggs said.

"It costs less than most luxury cars and could be cheaper than some birthday presents," he said.

If being a space tourist is hard to believe, the spaceship itself might seem like something from science-fiction.

Roughly the size of a small private aircraft, the Lynx can take off from a runway and reach suborbital space in about three minutes.

The Lynx can fly into space at least four times a day.

"Unlike other space travel, for which the passenger sits in the back and then unbuckles to get to the window to look out, the Lynx passenger sits next to the pilot and has a full view of what's in front of him," Inggs said.

The space tourist will have at least three minutes in which to experience the "once in a lifetime" view.

"There definitely won't be any hostesses on board offering food and beverages. This is a different type of travel," Inggs joked.

Xcor Aerospace is now conducting flight tests and plans to carry its first space traveller next year.

Inggs said that, after buying a ticket, the South African passenger would travel to the US for medical tests before a week-long training session at the Space Participant Training Centre, in Phoenix, Arizona.

"The traveller will then go back home and await a call to let him know when his trip is scheduled," he explained.

All liftoffs will be from the US, but Inggs hopes that the Lynx will operate in South Africa eventually.

"Science-fiction is coming true and nothing is impossible," he said. - [email protected]


http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/article942790.ece/Space-flight-for-R626000
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This shale gas proposal needs to get the official boot, fast.

It's good to see that SA law protects the SKA's interests, and that the Ministry of Science and Technology has final say in the matter, not the Energy Ministry. And we know how the former feels about the matter...

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Karoo gas threat to space array
Scientist warns Shell’s plan to explore for shale gas in the Karoo would compromise the Square Kilometre Array site
SARAH WILD
Published: 2011/03/17 06:34:49 AM

ENERGY and petrochemical group Shell’s plan to explore for shale gas in the Karoo would compromise the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) site and was affecting international sentiment towards SA’s bid to host it, a scientist warned yesterday.

Australia and SA are bidding to host the prestigious radio telescope, with a decision due next year.

The telescope — consisting of 3000 receptors — will cost €2bn to build, and require€€150m€€200m a year for 50 years for maintenance and operations. It would be funded through a consortium of international agencies.

Radio frequency interference and site characterisation manager Adrian Tiplady said even shale gas exploration would affect the site.

"Any major industrial activity and the associated communications will interfere with the site."

Shell has proposed to explore 90000km² of the South Western Karoo Basin for shale gas, which is extracted using hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking". This involves pumping a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to break apart underground shale rock and extract the gas.

The project has been opposed by farmers, community members and landowners including businessman Johann Rupert and Princess Irene of the Netherlands. There is concern that fracking uses large quantities of water and could contaminate surrounding bodies of water.

Shell SA communications manager Kim Bye Bruun said yesterday the SKA bid had been taken into account in Shell’s draft environmental management plan, recently made available to the public.

The Northern Cape was chosen for the SKA site because it is remote and sparsely populated. This means there is minimal radio frequency interference, a trump card for a radio astronomy site.

Seismic disturbance, electromagnetic interference from industrial equipment and increased communications would be detrimental to the SKA, Dr Tiplady said.

Moreover, the talk of fracking near the site was having a major effect on the perceptions of the international community.

In Parliament yesterday, Department of Science and Technology deputy director-general Val Munsami told MPs Shell’s shale gas plans "could affect" SA’s bid to build the world’s biggest radio telescope.

Mr Munsami said questions about Shell’s plans were starting to "creep into" SA’s international lobbying strategy.

"Obviously, from an SKA perspective, we are concerned about it…. In terms of the international lobbying strategy, it’s starting to creep in as well," he said.

"The international partners are starting to ask where this is going and how it will impact the SKA."

The radio telescope is the brainchild of a consortium of international science research funding agencies in 16 countries.

The department was examining the implications of the oil company going ahead with its exploration for shale gas, Mr Munsami said.

Dr Tiplady and science portfolio committee chairman Nqaba Ngcobo cited the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act, which gave the science and technology minister the sole right to regulate the zone in which the SKA would operate.

Promulgated in 2007, the act effectively prohibits all activities that might adversely affect the operation of the radio telescope.

"There is no way Shell can go ahead with that. The act doesn’t allow it," Mr Ngcobo said.

Mr Bye Bruun said Shell would comply with the act. Its prescriptions "will govern the conditions of any gas exploration right in the area surrounding the telescope". Compliance with the act would be addressed in Shell’s environmental impact assessment draft scoping report .

Dr Tiplady was less optimistic . "Shell’s activity is incompatible with the SKA project. This is a test case for the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act."

Mr Munsami said a management authority was being put in place in his department to deal with the shale gas exploration, and "to ensure regulations are fulfilled in terms of protecting the SKA".

"Obviously we will be looking at whether, in terms of exploration, there is any radio interference. If there is, we will have to have that discussion in terms of the regulatory framework." With Sapa

[email protected]

http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=137419
 

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Even though I'm a fan of SKA, I wouldn't mind Shale gas project by Shell. I know that SKA is is not comparable to none but IMO I think shell wil create my jobs.
 

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SKA is the kind of project where possible job creation should come second. Hosting SKA will boost many industries in SA and also promote FDI. If the Shell project can take place without disrupting SKA, then that's fine, but I think SKA needs to be protected with everything we've got.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Globally, the SKA is unprecedented. It's considered the tiara of the science world and will bring instant direct foreign investment to SA on a massive scale. There will be a steady stream of the world's top scientists to the country for decades. It will result in a massive (ongoing) upgrade of our ITC infrastructure (and that of other African countries included in the bid). Most importantly, it will inspire young African scientists of all races and cultures throughout the continent to embrace science and maths (SA alone has low science and maths literacy rates; as a result of the SKA, the government has already started sponsoring SKA bursaries). It will also leave the Northern Cape's pristine environment virtually untouched.

Alternatives that will yield the same global science objectives and associated benefits for SA: None.

Now let's compare this to benefits of the proposed shale gas project: short-term benefits (no guarantee that gas will even be yielded, and if so, this will likely be for a relatively short period; dirty technology, resulting in instant and ongoing pollution to a pristine environment). And the profits? It ultimately goes right out of SA, to Shell in Europe. The main beneficiaries: Shell shareholders.

Alternatives that will yield the same objectives (energy for SA): several; for a start, (clean) renewal energy options (let's rather expand the proposed Northern Cape solar farm).

There's no credible debate on the matter, really. I think the government knows this (they didn't enact legislation creating a radio-quiet zone in the Northern Cape for nothing).

Thus, let's keep our eyes on the main prize: SKA is of global significance; a project on that scale is unprecedented globally. The proposed shale gas project is of local relevant and will hardly make a difference to SA's energy security (energy from gas is the smallest component of government's recently published 20 year energy plan).
 

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Globally, the SKA is unprecedented. It's considered the tiara of the science world and will bring instant direct foreign investment to SA on a massive scale. There will be a steady stream of the world's top scientists to the country for decades. It will result in a massive (ongoing) upgrade of our ITC infrastructure (and that of other African countries included in the bid). Most importantly, it will inspire young African scientists of all races and cultures throughout the continent to embrace science and maths (SA alone has low science and maths literacy rates; as a result of the SKA, the government has already started sponsoring SKA bursaries). It will also leave the Northern Cape's pristine environment virtually untouched.

Alternatives that will yield the same global science objectives and associated benefits for SA: None.

Now let's compare this to benefits of the proposed shale gas project: short-term benefits (no guarantee that gas will even be yielded, and if so, this will likely be for a relatively short period; dirty technology, resulting in instant and ongoing pollution to a pristine environment). And the profits? It ultimately goes right out of SA, to Shell in Europe. The main beneficiaries: Shell shareholders.

Alternatives that will yield the same objectives (energy for SA): several; for a start, (clean) renewal energy options (let's rather expand the proposed Northern Cape solar farm).

There's no credible debate on the matter, really. I think the government knows this (they didn't enact legislation creating a radio-quiet zone in the Northern Cape for nothing).

Thus, let's keep our eyes on the main prize: SKA is of global significance; a project on that scale is unprecedented globally. The proposed shale gas project is of local relevant and will hardly make a difference to SA's energy security (energy from gas is the smallest component of government's recently published 20 year energy plan).
I fully concur.

Shell = globally dubious fossil-fuel corporation with a reputation for promoting corruption, destroying the environment and pillaging host countries.

Any project involving such a company should be viewed with skepticism.

SKA is a much better option and should be the priority.
 

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^^ SKA is surely important but not as important as energy-security. Shale Gas has revolutionised gas in the N.American market. These two projects are not mutually exclusive but if the chips are down IMO SKA will get the chop.

Reasons I think prospecting for shale gas is important

1 - Firstly it looks like the world is heading for a period of energy scarcity, shale gas has the potential to ensure SA is fully energy self-sufficient. Plus SA has tech to change gas into liquid fuel. Imagine we could generate electricity and extra-clean fuel from any potential finds
2 - Natural Gas is the energy of the future - it is clean, cheap and in abundance, it's also much more efficient to get electricity from gas than other fuels.

3 - There is potentially a shit load of gas in the Karoo, I'm no expert but from what I've learnt the Karoo is ideal for shale-gas as it was once the bottom an ancient ocean. The gas is potentially worth trillions of rands, as much as I like SKA it cannot compare

4- Gas is ideal to mitigate against climate change, it's clean(rel) electricity and it can be used for heating directly thus saving electricity.

Lastly I think these two projects are not mutually exclusive, they need to find out how shale gas drilling will affect the SKA and they need to mitigate against this. This doesn't have to be either or issue. SKA is a nice to have but it's cannot compare to the potential of massive gas reserves in the Karoo.
 

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If you think this shale-to-gas project is more important than SKA then you really need to re-evaluate your priorities for the long term development of this country.

Even if the SKA project wasn't on the cards, I'd be saying the shale project should not be allowed to go forward. It will destroy a pristine environment
 

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SKA has the potential to turn South Africa into a technical hub. I'm talking scientists from all over the world prefering to do their research here instead of abroad. The long term spin offs far outweigh shale gas, in my opinion....
 

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Globally, the SKA is unprecedented. It's considered the tiara of the science world and will bring instant direct foreign investment to SA on a massive scale. There will be a steady stream of the world's top scientists to the country for decades. It will result in a massive (ongoing) upgrade of our ITC infrastructure (and that of other African countries included in the bid). Most importantly, it will inspire young African scientists of all races and cultures throughout the continent to embrace science and maths (SA alone has low science and maths literacy rates; as a result of the SKA, the government has already started sponsoring SKA bursaries). It will also leave the Northern Cape's pristine environment virtually untouched.
I concur as Shale guess will have a very limited time scale. But will the country benefit they way we might be expecting in terms of indirect job creating as I guess most of the technology and tools will be imported? I would appriciate if we can use the 'Gautrain approach' of tranfering skills to South Africans.

Alternatives that will yield the same global science objectives and associated benefits for SA: None.

Now let's compare this to benefits of the proposed shale gas project: short-term benefits (no guarantee that gas will even be yielded, and if so, this will likely be for a relatively short period; dirty technology, resulting in instant and ongoing pollution to a pristine environment). And the profits? It ultimately goes right out of SA, to Shell in Europe. The main beneficiaries: Shell shareholders.
We not, as well, sure that we will win the bid to host the SKA. Shell is an ugly monster but the term of extraction of oil in South Africa will never be the same as extraction of oil and gas they have done in other countries. The people of Mmane Maite Mashabane will never let Shell pull the stringsand do things the way they are known to.

Alternatives that will yield the same objectives (energy for SA): several; for a start, (clean) renewal energy options (let's rather expand the proposed Northern Cape solar farm).
+1

There's no credible debate on the matter, really. I think the government knows this (they didn't enact legislation creating a radio-quiet zone in the Northern Cape for nothing).
The matter has got to be debated as neither of the 2 has been secured and SKA depends on the bid and Shale depends on the extraction. The benefits might not be equated but the value of the 2 is at the moment of higher significance.

Thus, let's keep our eyes on the main prize: SKA is of global significance; a project on that scale is unprecedented globally. The proposed shale gas project is of local relevant and will hardly make a difference to SA's energy security (energy from gas is the smallest component of government's recently published 20 year energy plan).
Again, the 2 need to be of high preference even though I concur with you on the significance of SKA.
 

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1 - Firstly it looks like the world is heading for a period of energy scarcity, shale gas has the potential to ensure SA is fully energy self-sufficient. Plus SA has tech to change gas into liquid fuel. Imagine we could generate electricity and extra-clean fuel from any potential finds
+1, SASOL comes to mind.

2 - Natural Gas is the energy of the future - it is clean, cheap and in abundance, it's also much more efficient to get electricity from gas than other fuels.
+1

3 - There is potentially a shit load of gas in the Karoo, I'm no expert but from what I've learnt the Karoo is ideal for shale-gas as it was once the bottom an ancient ocean. The gas is potentially worth trillions of rands, as much as I like SKA it cannot compare
I'm criossing my fingers. Imagine the benefits of getting the SKA and extract Shale gas would contribute significantly to the country, that's if the 2 can be run concurrently.
4- Gas is ideal to mitigate against climate change, it's clean(rel) electricity and it can be used for heating directly thus saving electricity.

Lastly I think these two projects are not mutually exclusive, they need to find out how shale gas drilling will affect the SKA and they need to mitigate against this. This doesn't have to be either or issue. SKA is a nice to have but it's cannot compare to the potential of massive gas reserves in the Karoo.
Let's not forget that the fact that France, Poland and Germany have got resrves of Shale gas and at the moment the profits yielded from it's extraction is not that profitable.
 
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