South Africa: Western Cape Welcomes National Aeronautics and Space Administration Investment

Western Cape welcomes exciting NASA investment to enable communications with deep space missions

The Western Cape Government (WCG) welcomes the official commencement of the impressive collaboration between the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), an entity of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), and the USA’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to invest in a Deep Space Ground Station, in Matjiesfontein, right here in the Western Cape.

The collaboration seeks to assist NASA in achieving the objectives of the Artemis programme, to further explore the moon’s surface and to send the first astronauts to Mars.

To achieve this mission, NASA plans to implement three new ground stations that will provide near-continuous communications support to missions up to two million kilometres from Earth through NASA’s Near Space Network.

At a meeting with the US Consul General, a team from NASA, their SANSA counterparts, and Wesgro officials, Western Cape Premier Winde enthused: “This takes the province’s relationship with NASA to new heights: space.”

The Premier added: “We as the WCG share the belief that there are immense economic opportunities in space research. The fact that SANSA will play an important role in this exciting project is an opportunity to show the world that we as the WCG value partnerships and put great importance in scientific innovation.”

Premier Winde continued: “We are elated Matjiesfontein, here in the Western Cape, has been chosen as the site for this project. It has the potential to launch the WCG’s skills development drive beyond the limits of earth.”

“Anyone who hears the acronym, ‘NASA’, cannot help but get excited by the prospect of exploring the great unknown. This significant investment means more than the jobs and visitors the installation will attract but represents a unique opportunity to further enhance our already growing space economy sector here in the Western Cape, which can attract even more investment in future, leading to job creation.” said Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger.

Minister Wenger continued: “Matjiesfontein has been specifically chosen because of its good weather conditions and critically, for the purpose of the Artemis project, the low radio frequency interference. I for one look forward to seeing the project come to fruition and will assist in any way we can to help ensure that Matjiesfontein, as part of the Central Karoo, realises its potential to become a new hub for space science.”

“The U.S. Mission to South Africa is pleased that our cooperation and partnership with South Africa continues to grow. Today, NASA and the South African government announced that they will jointly develop a communications antenna site in Matjiesfontein. This site will play a critical role in allowing a return to the moon and continue our exploration of deep space.” said US Consul-General, Todd Haskell

Wrenelle Stander, CEO of Wesgro said: “We are in full support of this initiative, which has been in discussion for the past few years between SANSA, DSI and NASA and is now nearing completion, with the signature of a joint statement of intent between DSI and NASA taking place in Matjiesfontein today. The Western Cape has a competitive space technology economy, and the future is bright!”

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