Update on Africa's 1st Satellite constellation built by CPUT

Fri, 14 Jan 2022 05:23:28 GMT
Space Daily

Cape Town, South Africa (SPX) Jan 14, 2022 The Marine Domain Awareness Satellites (MDASat) have...

The Marine Domain Awareness Satellites have already started successfully transmitting data after they were launched aboard US aerospace company SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket yesterday.

CPUT Vice-Chancellor Prof Chris Nhlapo congratulated engineers from the university's African Space Innovation Centre in person while watching the launch live with them at the ground station in Bellville.

"This was the biggest satellite project to date there are many other projects in the pipeline so it is a big niche area. So I say watch this 'space'," he said.

Acting Chief Engineer on the project Nyameko Royi says each satellite will initially make an average of four passes per day, but that will steadily increase.

"As satellites eventually drift further apart we'll have breaks between overpasses and as they eventually spread further apart we will have an average of 12 passes per day. We are also still tracking previously launched nanosatellite ZACUBE-2, which makes it 16 tracking operations per day. We expect an average of 1883k bytes of data to be generated per pass per satellites," he says.

MDASat Specs The first three satellites of the MDA constellation will carry an upgraded AIS receiver payload from ZACube-2 and will be capable of the following;.

Over the air upgrades which means software can be developed and uploaded to the orbiting satellite when ready.

Long Range AIS: These are two specific channels to be used as uplinks for receiving AIS messages by satellite.

These enhancements pave the way for the future MDASat-2's development and launch and minimizes the risk of damage to the current payload. SpaceX, the company founded by SA born entrepreneur Elon Musk, will be launching the constellation on 13 January 2022 at 17:25pm.

Planet Labs PBC reports announced that the launch of their Flock 4x, consisting of 44 SuperDove satellites, will take place on Thursday, January 13th on SpaceX's Falcon 9 Transporter-3 SSO. This marks the first satellite launch under Planet's new multi-year, multi-launch rideshare agreement with SpaceX. Planet operates the world's largest constellation of Earth observation satellites; and with this launch, the company will have more than 240 satellites in orbit.

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