With Operation Phakisa, the South African Government aims to fast track the implementation of its National Development Plan in two key sectors, the ocean economy and e-health. Monitoring activity within the continental shelf forms a critical part of this operation and requires a dedicated low-cost solution.
The consortium of CPUT, Stone Three and Clyde Space is proposing the development of a South African constellation of low cost nanosatellites to facilitate South African Marine Domain Awareness (MDA), as required by Operation Phakisa, by supporting international maritime communications, ranging from the current Automated Information Service (AIS) standard to the future VHF Data Exchange Service (VDES) standard. The MDA constellation will provide South Africa with security and control of its AIS and VDES maritime data with associated improved control over data cost and access. In addition, with its flexible communications platform, the MDA nanosatellite constellation will also enable various other satellite- based services for South Africa and the greater continent.
ZACUBE-2 as precursor mission:
Building on the success of ZACUBE-1 (TshepisoSAT), ZACUBE-2 will focus on developing, testing and demonstrating the technology that will be ultimately used for the MDASat nanosatellites in the Phakisa constellation.
A precursor mission, consisting of a single 3U nanosatellite, will carry an innovative SDR platform that is highly flexible; capable of post-launch configurability to address a wide range of communication needs in parallel to its primary MDA objectives.
The Phakisa nanosatellite constellation will act as an enabler to demonstrate and mature other services that are as yet not economically feasible via satellite communications due to the inherent high costs. This is made possible through the reconfigurable communications payload (software defined radio) at the core of the technology that will allow remote data exchange and in-situ monitoring applications using the same constellation. Therefore, in addition to its primary objective to facilitate maritime domain awareness, the proposed nanosatellite constellation will act as a catalyst to unlock various narrow band machine to machine communication services in industries ranging from healthcare, transport, mining and energy. Some of the immediate applications identified, include last mile rural data exchange, asset tracking and telemetry of equipment at key energy and mining facilities.
The following infographic depicts the proposed activities.
Operation Phakisa in the media
Eye in the sky to monitor SA’s oceans – BDLive