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Author Topic: Various South African Space projects,concepts and associated equipment  (Read 2837 times)

Offline Graugrun

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Part and parcel of our then nuclear weapons program, many items of which were dual use and dependent on each other. Starting with GreenSat (a spy satellite now thinly veiled as an earth observation satellite), there is no point in having nuclear tipped MRBM/ICBM's without the necessary surveillance and early warning to know when to use them.

So GreenSat was built (a couple of them actually) as part of a constellation of spy satellites for South Africa. Naturally with the change of power looming in the early 90's, the Americans in particular where rather uneasy about this sort of technology and very particularly of their launch vehicles, landing up in the hands of a new government that had close ties with countries like Cuba/Russia/China/North Korea etc.

So massive pressure was put on us to shut it all down , with the only viable chance of survival being to commercialise it - something that apparently held promise but ultimately proved unsuccessful (we also denounced our nuclear weapons program and destroyed the 6 +1/2 bombs we declared - with some observers stating that these were just the tip of our nuclear weapons iceberg).

The article from Engineering News (South Africa) gives some interesting insight, although it's deduction is incorrect in that we wanted foreign partners to pay for the full development of GreenSat (we had already built at least 3 of them), I think that the rest is fairly close to what happened: http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/why-greensat-stayed-grounded-2000-07-07

I thought nothing much of our space capabilities, however in recent years details of some of the countries we have assisted, and supplied our own built items to - for their own space programs is a bit of an eye opener - more on that later though.

Offline compton_effect

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Re: Various South African Space projects,concepts and associated equipment
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2014, 11:12:35 am »
There is a story I once heard, but never had a chance to follow up on - the manufacture of Space Shuttle Nosecones were subcontracted to Vereeniging Refractories.
Supposedly they were the only company with the tooling to machine Carbon Carbon on that scale.


It would be pretty impressive if that was the case.

Offline Graugrun

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Re: Various South African Space projects,concepts and associated equipment
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2014, 10:48:51 pm »
There is a story I once heard, but never had a chance to follow up on - the manufacture of Space Shuttle Nosecones were subcontracted to Vereeniging Refractories.
Supposedly they were the only company with the tooling to machine Carbon Carbon on that scale.


It would be pretty impressive if that was the case.

A nice thought, however I sincerely doubt the Yanks would farm anything as sensitive like that out to any other country, especially to the likes of a country like South Africa (if they could find us that is... ;) ).

Some more info regards us re-starting our program - despite what the article says AFAIK the RSA-3 MRBM was test launched - article courtesy of Engineering News (South Africa) July 2009.

Offline kaiserbill

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Re: Various South African Space projects,concepts and associated equipment
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2014, 02:29:56 am »
FW de Klerk really wasn't a big thinker or negotiator.
 
Either way, is there a particular reason they feel the need to differentiate in the article the SumbandilaSat satellite mentioned as South Africas first "official" satellite?
 
SUNSAT was launched a full decade previously.
 
And of course, there was the other, much larger, earlier satellite design...
« Last Edit: October 14, 2014, 02:36:44 am by kaiserbill »

Offline Graugrun

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Re: Various South African Space projects,concepts and associated equipment
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2014, 07:50:39 am »

And of course, there was the other, much larger, earlier satellite design...

GreenSat - which they seemed to have set up some sort of production line for - If this pic had not come off of a site of ex-Houwtech guys still offering their services (and labeling this pic specifically as being GreenSat, one of their previous projects), I would have simply thought it's a pic of the Israeli Offeq/Ofek satellite series. This pic would date to around 1993 or so as a guess.

What would they be doing with so many satellites (at least 4) - selling them off to various other countries, who would launch them then - or was that meant to be us?
« Last Edit: October 16, 2014, 12:48:41 pm by Graugrun »

Offline Graugrun

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Re: Various South African Space projects,concepts and associated equipment
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2014, 07:33:05 am »
The inside of the brochure of the newly formed SpaceTeq division of Denel Dynamics (formed from a section of Stellenbosch University and the former Sunspace - who in turn were also fed from the defunct Howteq).

It covers most of the satellite development within the correct time-frames and chronological order.

Offline Graugrun

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Re: Various South African Space projects,concepts and associated equipment
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2014, 07:40:23 am »
Article on GreenSat from Flight International June 1994 - the 2nd last paragraph gives a good hint as to why it properly never got launched - no one likes competition...

Interesting that they mention the UAE - looks like they might have been one of the interested parties.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2014, 09:18:30 pm by Graugrun »

Offline compton_effect

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Re: Various South African Space projects,concepts and associated equipment
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2014, 01:52:42 pm »
The one thing that seems to be hammered home with every South African project - is that we have the technological know-how, the skills, but not the political clout to be able to play against established players.

Offline Graugrun

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Re: Various South African Space projects,concepts and associated equipment
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2014, 09:19:22 pm »
The one thing that seems to be hammered home with every South African project - is that we have the technological know-how, the skills, but not the political clout to be able to play against established players.

Amen to that!

Offline Graugrun

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Africa's first privately owned Nano-satellite and South Africa's fourth Satellite is now in orbit - I have read about the Gecko imager payload on this one before, hopefully it does well, as it could be a very good money spinner for South Africa (very good sales potential in the international Nano-satellite arena).

http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/south-africas-latest-nanosatellite-now-in-orbit-2017-05-31