Legacy Launch Infrastructure
During its establishment in the 1980’s Denel Overberg Test Range was designed to also provide a strategic capability for launching of LEO satellites. At the time South Africa has embarked on a space programme to meet the remote sensing needs of the South African Defense Force. This resulted in the establishment of a comprehensive and wide spectrum of measurement capabilities, control systems and infrastructure at the Test Range. Specific space related facilities established included satellite and launch vehicle preparation and integration facilities, as well as a satellite ground-station for telemetry, tracking and control (“TT&C”). Three successful sub-orbital launches were conducted from the Test Range between 1989 and 1991, proving and qualifying the Test Range's ability to manage and conduct complex launch campaigns.
Due to its position near Africa’s southernmost tip the Test Range is ideal for LEO satellite launches into sun-synchronous and polar orbits and down to about 38° inclination.
Since the termination of the RSA space program in 1994, the Test Range has being utilized exclusively for the advanced testing of non-space related systems for domestic as well as international customers.
New South African launch program
During her speech on the 9th of December 2010 at the launch of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and National Space Strategy, Minister of Science and Technology Mrs. Naledi Pandor said: “In light of the lessons learned with the delays we experienced in the launch of SumbandilaSat, my Department is also looking at redeveloping South Africa’s launch capabilities through defining a 20 year launch plan. We plan to conduct consultative workshops with relevant stakeholders with the aim of developing this 20 year launch plan.” (The full text of her speech is available on the SA Government website - click here)
It is envisaged that Denel Overberg Test Range could play an important role in this new long-term launch plan. The main focus of the Test Range’s current space initiatives is thus to support Department of Science & Technology (DST) and SANSA in developing and executing the launch plan. Relying on the experience gained during the previous space program, the Test Range can provide crucial assistance in aligning South Africa's space priorities, ground launch infrastructure, launch vehicle manufacturing and satellite development program. A full time Engineering Specialist has been allocated to coordinate these activities within the Test Range and to liaise with DST and other relevant stakeholders.
More Information on South Africa’s involvement in Space
Important links for more information on South Africa’s involvement in space: