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Various South African Space projects,concepts and associated equipment

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.
 

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compton_effect

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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.
 

Graugrun

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compton_effect said:
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.
 

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kaiserbill

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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...
 

Graugrun

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kaiserbill said:
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?
 

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Graugrun

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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.
 

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Graugrun

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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.
 

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compton_effect

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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.
 

Graugrun

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compton_effect said:
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!
 

Graugrun

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Graugrun

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A nice detailed article on the latest South African Space program developments - including this interesting tid-bit!

"In the 1980s the Overberg Test Range in the Western Cape was used for space launches. Four South African space rockets were built, and three launched between 1989 and 1990, but without useful payloads. In the 1990s funding for South Africa’s space programme dried up and as a requirement to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 1995, South Africa was forced to destroy much of its key facilities and technologies, including the launch pad at Overberg. However, the site has retained most of its space launch capabilities, including mission control centre, radar and telemetry tracking facilities, and range safety systems."

http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=51386:south-africa-to-increase-focus-on-space&catid=35:Aerospace&Itemid=107
 

Graugrun

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The proposed EO-SAT NG (my understanding is that it has not yet been completely built, due to the usual lack of funds). Should it get full funding to be developed, I'm sure that it will properly have a few different components, that are also currently being developed and refined.
 

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Grey Havoc

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Has there been any real changes in the R&D funding situation with the recent change in government?
 

Graugrun

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Has there been any real changes in the R&D funding situation with the recent change in government?
No - it has gotten even worse... The levels of corruption are on a scale that defies belief, in fact you would think I'm making up complete fantasy stories if I had to detail just a few of the almost daily incidents that come out in the news (at least our papers are still reasonable independent..), so bottom line is no, from when Jacob Zuma became our president about 10 years ago, then R&D funding and military equipment purchases really started drying up (except for one or two foreign deals, in which they could get good kick-backs). So now everything gets developed very slowly and on a shoe-string budget, and only when a foreign client takes an interest in and funds a particular project, does it get going and completed. Still things could be worse, so there's no use complaining too much...!
 
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Graugrun

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Graugrun

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kaiserbill

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From Graugruns link above, the previous missile programme saw 4 solid fuel rockets built, with 3 launched in 1989-90, and the RSA-3 which is displayed in the SAAF museum with its erector.
These were military rockets, with a sideline view on commercial launches eventually.
All that know-how and knowledge/industrial base just thrown away.....
 

Graugrun

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This might have some sort of tie in with my post #18 above... Of personal interest to me was this piece from the article "the research group was founded in 2009 and has focused on developing hybrid rockets. The rockets use a mix of liquid and solid propellants, to launch sounding equipment into space".

SA rocket launches almost 18 km into the air – setting a new African record​


https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/a...g-a-new-african-record-2021-03-10/rep_id:4136
 

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Graugrun

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So two more new type Nano satellites are to be developed and launched - the interesting piece in this article for me was this "Meanwhile, plans are also under way to develop Denel’s Overberg Test Range, in the Western Cape, as a facility to launch future CubeSats developed by the CPUT"

Science, innovation dept invests R18.9m in nanosatellites​


https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/a...pt-invests-r189m-in-nanosatellites-2021-03-25
 

Graugrun

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One of the areas (of Space) that South Africa seems to be thriving in to some degree, is in terms of imagers for Nano and Micro satellites.. I posted a bit about Simera above (post #20), however here's a bit on the Dragonfly Aerospace's Optical options and some of their new products still in development..

This statement on their website caught my eye:

"We are planning a production line with up to 16 satellites being built in parallel and up to 48 satellites produced per year. The facility is designed to build satellites from 50kg to 600kg and imagers from 1U CubeSat imagers to 400mm aperture sub-metre imagers. It is intended to serve commercial and civil space customers."

They have also signed up into some interesting international partnerships...!

https://dragonflyaerospace.com/#home
 

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Graugrun

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Some of the Hydrazine thrusters, high pressure hydrazine tanks and solenoid valves developed for our Space (and to some extent the Nuclear weapons) program. Interestingly and obviously due to both sensitivity of potential clients and perhaps why they were developed in the first place etc, they have listed an address in New Jersey USA on some of the brochures, and on others add a South African office as being the Head Office..

I got these brochures in the mid 1990's IIRC..
 

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