By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) - South Africa launched three locally produced nanosatellites into space Thursday as part of US aerospace company SpaceX’s Transporter-3 mission, a first for the African continent.
According to a government statement and a live webcast by SpaceX, the nanosatellites were launched from Cape Canaveral in the US state of Florida.
The satellites are aimed at helping to monitor South Africa’s waters from illegal fishing and other activities.
The South African government said the launch of the Maritime Domain Awareness Satellite constellation (MDASat-1) is a significant milestone for the country, marking the first launch of a satellite constellation developed entirely on the African continent.
The nanosatellites were designed at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Africa Space Innovation Centre.
"This will further cement South Africa's position as an African leader in small satellite development and help the country to capture a valuable share of a niche market in the fast-growing global satellite value chain," South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande said in a statement.
A few years ago, South Africa launched one of its most advanced nanosatellites to date, ZACube-2, as a technology demonstrator for the MDASat constellation.
“Since its launch in 2018, ZACube-2 has been providing cutting-edge very high frequency (VHF) data exchange communication systems to the country's maritime industry," Nzimande said.