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SANSA partners with NASA for a deep space communications study

The study will focus on establishing a ground station in South Africa to support human spaceflight missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has entered into a partnership with US space agency NASA to host a Deep Space Ground Station. The announcement was made at the virtual cabinet meeting held on May 27. 

The agreement will see NASA and SANSA collaborate in conducting technical and environmental research on the potential to establish a ground station in South Africa that will support future near-Earth and deep space exploration, including NASA’s planned Artemis mission to send the first woman and the next man to the surface of the Moon.

Commenting on the partnership, Marcus Watkins, Director of the NASA Management Office, said: “Having worked with the South African government on numerous projects in the past, it is fitting to collaborate with SANSA on this study agreement, not only because of the geographical positioning of South Africa but more so the technical capabilities and the consistent quality of work produced by SANSA Space Operations over the years.”

“This agreement will also provide educational opportunities for universities and their students, especially for those interested in space communications and navigation. Depending on the outcomes of the study agreement, long term projects could be implemented soon between SANSA and NASA,” he added.

Valanathan Munsami, the Chief Executive Officer of the SANSA, added: “Continuous research and development are vital in any industry for it to thrive and at the rate and pace the space industry is developing, it’s appropriate for SANSA to partner with NASA on this study agreement.”

Gregory Mann, an International Program Specialist at NASA, remarked: “To do anything important it will take all of us and we welcome South Africa’s participation and contribution. Space is for everyone and we need to work together to solve future issues.”