The Departments of Trade and Industry and Science and Technology presented the Committee with information on the nature of the two South African space agencies, South African Council of Space Affairs (SACSA) and South African National Space Agency (SANSA) as well as their goals, objectives and purpose. They started with the legislative mandate that had brought the agencies into being and what the historical background behind the rather unique two bodied structure was. They also went into detail about the international treaties and conventions of this field as well as the more detailed functions each of them would perform, were one functioned as the industry regulator and the other was an actual space actor, putting vehicles into orbit. The link between policy and strategy was important to the agencies. They spoke at length about what the space programme and the space industry would work at, but more importantly how it would benefit
There were questions on whether
The meeting started with the Chairperson calling for an introduction of everyone in attendance and he welcomed the Members from the Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee.
Roles and functions of SA National Space Agency & SA Council for Space Affairs
Deputy Director General: Research Development and Innovation, Val Munsami, from the Department of Science and Technology and Chief Director: Industrial Development (Advance Manufacturing), Nomfuneko Majaja, from the Department of Trade and Industry shared the presentation. They focused on the differences and relationship between the South African Council of Space Affairs (SACSA) and South African National Space Agency (SANSA) as well as their goals and objectives. The presentation provides details on the following topics:
▪ Legislative Mandate
This included references to the Space Affairs Act of 1993, with intentions to meet all international commitments and responsibilities, controlling and restricting the development, transfer, acquisition and disposal of dual-use technologies i.e. ballistic missiles used to deliver satellites into orbit as well as nuclear warheads.
▪ Establishment of SACSA
This detailed the objects and functions of the Council as well as the activities it performed such as issuing licences, registering institutions operating in the space industry and implement matters relating to international obligations.
▪ International Conventions, Treaties and Agreements
These included the ratified Outer Space Treaty, the Rescue Agreement, the Liability Convention, the ratified Registration Convention and the Moon Agreement.
▪ South African National Space Agency Act of 2008
The Preamble detailed the promotion and use of space, cooperation in space related activities, fostering research in space science and the advancement of scientific engineering through development of human capital and support of industrial development. All this was to happen within the framework of national government policies. The Act’s objects and functions were noted. The objects included promoting a peaceful use of space, supporting industrial development, fostering research in space science
plus fostering international cooperation. The functions included implementing space programmes in line with the policy determined in terms of the Space Affairs Act; advising on the development of strategies and programmes; acquiring, assimilating and disseminating space satellite imagery for any organ of state; establishing any programme in line with the national space policy for enabling technologies, development of space science, application and operations.
▪ Linking Policy and Strategy
Policy should be followed by appropriate strategy such as:
- Improve coordination in the South African Space Arena by organising some of the current space science and technology activities into strategic programmes and optimising the organisation of future space activities.
- Promote capacity building by strengthening training and technology transfer programmes.
- Foster a robust science and technology base by promoting space science and technology in academic institutions and science centres.
- Promote the development of an appropriate competitive domestic sector by developing the local private space science and technology industry sector and developing an export market for specific equipment and satellite services.
- Finally, improving cooperation with other nations by establishing partnerships with established and developing space-faring countries and responding to the challenges and opportunities of
▪ SACSA (Council) versus SANSA (Agency)
SACSA’s vision was to create and maintain a regulatory environment that enhanced South African domestic and international space activities, as well as ensuring a safe, reliable, and sustainable space activity for societal benefit through developmental measures. SACSA’s objectives were to support, review and implement appropriate regulatory policies, practices and compliance, promote space activities in a fair and stable regulatory regime and build stakeholder confidence in space activities.
SANSA’s vision was to be a leading contributor to the perpetual advancement of societies through the benefits of space science and technology. Their mission included delivery of various space related services, support, guide and conduct R&D and grow our contribution to the space value chain. Its goals were to be world class, have efficient services and societal benefits, do cutting edge research, development, innovation, technology and applications, have a globally competitive space industry and make South Africa a globally recognised space citizen.
▪ Astronomy focus within SANSA. There was a limited but definable astronomy focus in SANSA including the South African Large Telescope (SALT), the Karoo Array Telescope (MeerKAT) and Square Kilometre Array (SKA) mega projects. However these projects had their own governance structures and should not take the focus away from other important areas of space science.
▪ International Astronautical Congress
This world premier meeting of the space industry and professionals would be hosted by
Ms M Shinn (DA) asked why, with
Mr Munsami answered that a good reason for South Africa to have its own satellites was that they currently had to pay a large amount to get access to satellite imagery, and that was capital flowing out of the country. If they retained that, they could build up the industrial capability in the country. There were certain restrictions when you licensed the use of foreign satellites. It was first of all very difficult and very expensive to get high resolution imagery. Large scale resolution images could be obtained free of charge from
As for launch capabilities, he said
As for having two agency bodies, he admitted that it was a difficult question. What he could say was that one had to look at the time when the policy was formed, what was the policy drivers in 1993. It was a technology control and dual use technology regime. Space was looked at through the lens of non-proliferation. He hoped, and believed that this would however be addressed as they went forward. As for the satellite already launched, the SumbandilaSat was meant as a technology demonstration satellite, one to help them get back on the path of construction. It had been constructed ‘on the cheap’ mostly because it did not have a dual redundancy, meaning it did not have a backup for every system. There had been some breakdowns, but the satellite was fortunately still limping along.
Mr A Alberts (FF+) asked on what other agencies the two South African ones were modelled, if any. He asked about the licence issuing process, what kind of licences had been issued, what types were there and could they elaborate a little on the launch licences. He asked if there had been any research done on the viability of
Mr Munsami replied that there were other agencies, such as NASA, who had regulatory bodies that regulated say satellite technology use. They had been told that what they were doing was very progressive. As for licences, only two satellite licences had been given and one launch licence. When it came to the economic space future, Mr Munsami said that for every one rand they had invested in the SumbandilaSat programme, there had been a six rand return. Many of the technologies on it were in current use on satellites in orbit, and much of the South African skill-set was second to none when it came to satellite construction. So there was an economic return on this. He could not however overemphasis the importance of a well functioning space infrastructure. It touched almost every aspect of our daily lives, from GPS, television, telecommunication, banking, time coding, healthcare information, even cellular phones. All came via space technology and satellites. Both the South African satellites that had been developed had been attached to post graduate programmes, and there had emerged a good number of Master and PhD students from them. Even now, they had a graduate cube-sat programme, part of a French-South African trade and innovation initiative, where a small cube satellite was built. They were growing a home base of scholarships for satellite development and human capital within space technology. DDG Munsami said that the private sector was being addressed; their programmes were developed in three different stages. Core goods and services were addressing the government’s needs, another was public goods and services such as tele-education and telemedicine addressing service delivery, and finally there were the commercial goods and services which provided for the private sector. They could provide a list of the members of the two bodies, they did not have this on them at this point.
Chief Director Nomfuneko Majaja referred to the Moon Treaty and the apparent lack of many signatories to it, most countries had not deemed it necessary to sign it, including
Mr Munsami added that the moon agreement had to be seen as similar to the Antarctic treaty. No country could claim sovereignty of the south polar continent; likewise, no country could claim ownership of celestial bodies like the moon.
Ms P Mocumi (ANC) asked what criteria would be used on issuing the licences they referred to. Could they explain what the risks to the bid of the SKA telescope were that they referred to.
Mr Munsami said that essentially what they meant with the risk to the SKA, was that they did not want to risk the bid by putting the SKA under the South African National Space Agency when the agency was in its early days. That was why they kept them separate for the moment until the agency found its feet.
Chief Director Majaja noted that as for the criteria for licences, there were a number that had to be fulfilled. Satellites could not endanger people or property as well as the environment. It had to not add to the space debris field in orbit and the company launching it had to be financially secure to keep control of the vehicle once it was in orbit.
Mr J Small (DA) asked what treaties
Mr Munsami replied that treaties were signed with other countries like
Chief Director Majaja said that
Ms S van der Merwe (ANC) asked who the new players were and growth areas in space.
Mr Munsami said that as for the American and Russian space industry, it had been historically driven by technology supremacy to show off who was the better. This of course was a very expensive policy. The drivers of the developing countries were different. For
The Chairperson questioned the disjunction between the two bodies of the space programme, and the disjunction between the DST and the DTI. He asked why the DST was not the primary lead department for space related issues. He claimed passionately that issues of space exploration, science and astronomy were much more significant for the DST. A good example would be the matters of climate change, a complex issue that involved many areas covered by many departments, but the Department of Environmental Affairs would still be considered the lead in the area.
Chief Director Nomfuneko Majaja explained that the two departments worked very well together. The presentation was meant to focus on the distinction between SANSA and SACSA. They would have to come back with a bigger delegation to address fully the International Astronautical Congress (IAC). She wanted to add a broader comment about the space agencies. The Department of Trade and Industry would provide policy guidelines for all stakeholders involved that had to be followed; all departments and bodies had to take their cue from these policies. As for the two-bodied space agency institutions, she wanted to make a comment. The Space Affairs Act was about 16 years old and would be reviewed and revised due to the changes that had occurred since that time. What used to be focused on was dual use technology. The focus was now on socio-economic benefits. She claimed that there was a risk that combining the two bodies would harm the space industry as SANSA would play the role of both referee and player. She questioned if it would be able to credibly police itself and act fairly towards the industry while it was itself involved. This needed to be looked - whether this would be a hindrance for the industry.
Mr Munsami added that the Department of Trade and Industry would take the lead on the IAC as it would have an industry focus to it.
The Chairperson agreed on the view of having the space bodies being a regulator and a stakeholder at the same time. He thanked the presenters for the discussion and the presentation. He reminded the members to start thinking about the upcoming Astronautical Congress.
The meeting was adjourned.
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