Countdown to ZACube-2 launch

Four years after making history with the launch of Africa’s first nano-satellite into space, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) is preparing to reach even greater heights with the launch of its second CubeSat – ZACube-2.

ZACube-2 will be the most advanced South African CubeSat to date and is expected to launch in May or June from a launch site in India.

It was developed by the Satellite Programme of the CPUT French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI), which is based at the Bellville campus.

“ZACube-2 is a triple unit CubeSat so it is three times the size of its predecessor, which was called TshepisoSat,” says F’SATI director, Prof Robert van Zyl.

“It is currently being tested and qualified for space, which means it is being subjected to the extreme conditions it will be exposed to in the space environment.”

The main payload on the satellite is an AIS (automatic identification system) receiver with which navigational data will be received from ships along our coast. This data, which includes the ships’ GPS coordinates, registration information, speed and direction of travel, will assist the authorities to track ship traffic in our exclusive economic zone, and improve the safety of ships.
ZACube-2 will also carry an advanced camera, which will detect forest and velds fires. ZACube-2 serves as a precursor mission for two future satellite constellations – the one for Maritime Domain Awareness in support of Operation Phakisa and the other a FireSat constellation to track fire on the African continent,” says Van Zyl.

The ZACube-2 mission is an initiative funded by the Department of Science and Technology, the South African National Space Agency, the National Research Foundation and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Other technology partners on the project include the CSIR, Stone Three, Clyde Space, Stellenbosch University and Astrofica.