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4.21.14 vanZyl


Prof. Robert van Zyl, Director, French South African Institute of Technology (F-SATI) and Francois Visser, Chief Engineer, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), Cape Town, South Africa
April 21, 2014, 10:00 am, NIA, Rm 137
Host: Dr. William Edmonson, Langley Professor, NIA

South Africa has a satellite development experience spanning two decades. National Government identified space science and technology as a key driver towards a knowledge-based economy to unlock the socio-economic potential of the space industry. As a result, F’SATI established a postgraduate programme in satellite systems and applications. The programme is funded by the Department of Science and Technology as a national flagship human capacity development programme.
A particular strength of the Programme is its utilisation of nanosatellites as technology platforms for practical, hands-on skills training and applied research. F’SATI students and staff developed ZACUBE-1 (“TshepisoSAT”), Africa’s first nanosatellite in space. It was launched on 21 November 2013. ZACUBE-2 is under development. The ZACUBE-i series of missions are being developed in collaboration with the South African National Space Agency, especially its Space Science Directorate. Space weather research payloads are integral to these missions. Current emphases are being placed on space-based HF ionospheric propagation studies, and the characterisation of the SuperDARNHF radar antenna arrays, but a broader scope of scientific applications is being explored.
Through its Pan-African, American and European linkages, F’SATI is uniquely positioned to catalyse truly global collaborative space weather missions.
A technical overview of the ZACUBE-i nanosatellites and the space weather experiments that are considered will be presented. The current development of an African Space Policy will also be shared.

Robert van Zyl is the Director of the French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI) at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa. He obtained his PhD in the field of high frequency microelectronics from the University of Stellenbosch in 2006. Since its establishment in 2008, F’SATI produced 50 graduates and developed Africa’s first nanosatellite in space. It now also hosts the Africa Space Innovation Centre as an innovation hub of space technologies. Dr. van Zyl started the Postgraduate Programme in Satellite Systems Engineering at CPUT, which is funded as a strategic human capacity development programme by the South African Government. He hosts an annual Space Industry Seminar in South Africa, and initiated the International African CubeSat Workshop Series in 2010. He has been appointed to the Space Engineering Expert Workgroup of the National Space Programme, under the auspices of the South African National Space Agency. In his spare time he enjoys playing the French horn.

Francois Visser is the Chief Engineer of the French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI). He obtained his MSc Eng in the field of satellite communications from the University of Stellenbosch. Mr Visser has more than 15 years’ experience in small satellite development, both in industry and academia. He boasts the unique accomplishment of participating in the development of all three South African satellites launched to date. Mr Visser has been appointed to the Space Engineering Expert Workgroup of the National Space Programme, under the auspices of the South African National Space Agency. He is an RF specialist, but in his role as Chief Engineer oversees all technical aspects of the national ZACUBE-i series of missions. He is also directing the technical innovation portfolio at the Africa Space Innovation Centre, which is hosted by F’SATI.



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