SGAC South Africa

National Points of Contact South Africa

Welcome to the SGAC South Africa homepage.

Through this page, we aim to keep young South Africans informed of developments and events in the South African Space sector. If you would like to become involved in any space-related activities in South Africa, have general comments or queries, or are aware of any events that would be of interest to other space enthusiasts, please do not hesitate to contact the National Points of Contact.

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Young Space Activities Overview in the South Africa

South Africa has been an active participant in the exploration of space since the early 1960’s when it began tracking satellites as one of the 14 similar Satellite Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STADAN) stations established by NASA across the globe. Today much of South Africa’s microsatellite industry has its roots in the SunSat academic program which was started in 1992. Developed by engineering graduates at Stellenbosch University, SunSat-1 was successfully launched in 1999. Since then, South Africa has continued to grow its nascent space capabilities through the successful launch in 2009 of the indigenously built satellite Sumbandila (meaning ‘to lead the way’); the formalisation of a space agency (SANSA) in 2010; the upsurge in locally built university and industry CubeSat’s (ZACube-1/ TshepisoSat, ZA-AeroSat, nSight etc.); and in recent years, the development of both an Earth observation satellite (EOSat-1) and the MeerKat, a precursor to the Square Kilometre Array Telescope.

In 2011, South Africa hosted the 10th annual Space Generation Congress in Cape Town, South Africa which brought together 130 delegates from 42 countries. In addition, a Space Suit Walk was held around Cape Town City Centre to raise awareness of the Space Generation Congress, International Astronautical Congress and space activities in South Africa in general. SGAC SA members organised several volunteers who donned space suits and walked through the streets of Cape Town.

Over the course of 2017, the SGAC SA team has continued to be involved a wide variety of both local and international events.

In April 2017, SGAC SA hosted a Yuri’s night event in the form of a Space Trivia Quiz night, at Mad Monk’s Coffee Shop in Botha’s Hill, Kwazulu Natal, where teams from across the province competed against each other for a Cash Prize.

In September 2017, SGAC was well represented at the Space Generation Congress and International Astronautical Congress (IAC). SGAC SA formed part of the judging panel at both the South African Aeronautical Society’s Young Professional Networking Event (hosted by the CSIR), as well as at the Airbus Defence and Space and DeltaV Launch Alliance for the NewSpace and Innovation Competition – A competition which promotes the development of new innovative start-ups. In addition, this year two of the IAF Emerging Space Leader Grants were awarded to South African SGAC members.

In October 2017, SGAC SA collaborated with Living Maths to support the promotion of STEM fields in South Africa. This included the Hedy Lamar event at the Cape Town Science Centre and NASA Astronaut Dr Don Thomas’ Space Tour during World Space Week. In addition, SGAC SA has collaborated with the KZN Department of Health, UKZN’s ENT-CARES program and Air Mercy Services, to establish a community STEM outreach program where the SGAC SA team flies in a fixed wing aircraft to remote rural communities, where members of the community are given the opportunity to use a telescope in the hopes of inspiring the next generation of space leaders.

In December 2017, South Africa had the honour of hosting the United Nations Basic Space Technology Symposium in Stellenbosch, hosting 150 delegates from across the globe. The event was co-organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the Government of the Republic of South Africa, and was co-sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Country-Specific Events in 2018

April 2018 : Yuri’s Night – Details to follow October 2018 : World Space Week – Details to follow Join our mailing list for updates on all our Local and International events, as well as information on Scholarship opportunities.

Country-Specific Events in 2017

15 April 2017Yuri’s Night – The world space party to celebrate the past, present and future of space travel – Durban, Kwazulu Natal October 2017World Space Week – An international celebration of science and technology, and their contribution to the improvement of the human condition – Durban, Kwazulu Natal

Interesting Web Links for the Young Generation in the USA


Ernie Halberg discovers Asteroid 2010 DC, the first discovery of an asteroid by a school student in South Africa South Africa’s Sumbandila Satellite Mission Blog

Industry, Facilities and Education

South African Space Agency South African Space Association The Astronomical Society of Southern Africa South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) Emerging Astronaut Programme National Research Foundation National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme Institute for the Development of Emerging Achievers and Leaders (IDEALS) South African Space Portal – a great website for South Africa’s space facilities Cape Peninsula University of Technology University of Witswatersrand Space Commercial Services Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) South African Council for Space Affairs University of Kwazulu-Natal Stellenbosch University

The IAF Emerging Leader Grant was awarded to 2 South African SGAC members

NASA Astronaut Dr Don Thomas Space Tour (In association with Living Maths)

Yuri’s Quiz Night: The winning team receiving a certificate and cash prize (At Mad Monks Coffee Shop and Bar in Botha’s Hill, South Africa)

STEM Rural Outreach Program (In association with the Department of Health and Air Mercy Services)

The United Nations Symposium on Basic Space Technology held in Stellenbosch, South Africa