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Tuesday, 02 October 2018

CPUT reaches new heights with space company launch


Already established as a regional leader in the field of nanosatellites, a new company, Amaya Space has been set up by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), and is set to launch the institution to even greater heights.

In 2013 CPUT made history with the launch of ZACUBE-1, South Africa’s and Africa’s first nanosatellite.

ZACUBE-2, which will be the most advanced South African CubeSat to date, is set to be launched soon.

Radio systems and other technologies developed at the University are also used in many satellites from around the world.

Now the university has taken the next step - setting up a company which aims to be the first truly transformed space company, by Africans for Africans.

The Technology Transfer Office (TTO) at CPUT is a key enabler of this initiative. Dr Revel Iyer, Director of the TTO, says it is critical for our nation and continent that a strong, African-born nanosatellite company emerges. South Africa has a couple of nanosatellite industry players. “However, these companies are generally not truly transformed and representative of our nation’s demographics as none of them are being run by black South Africans; none of them focus on employing young black South African engineering graduates; and none of them are well positioned to be the preferred supplier for South African Government. This company will furthermore aim to catalyse a transformational supplier development programme,” says Iyer.

“We have a collective body of knowledge - intellectual property - that we have created within CPUT which we are mandated to commercialise,” says Professor Robert van Zyl, director of the French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI) at CPUT.

“We want to respond to national directives like government’s Operation Phakisa. Nanosatellite solutions can provide services to support Operation Phakisa, for example in the maritime domain.”

The company will aim to deliver fully functional “CubeSat” constellations primarily to the South African government as well as governments elsewhere on the African continent while striving to serve a role in the building and transformation of the emerging space industry.

“CPUT has been successful, at academic and research levels, to give previously disadvantaged students opportunities. We also employ them in our Africa Space Innovation Centre as engineers-in-training. The expectation is that they will feed into and drive the company, and indeed the whole industry,” says Van Zyl.

“CPUT continues to play a pivotal role in the research, innovation and commercial development of the South African and African space industries. This puts us in quite a unique situation for already having established this complete value chain in a new, technologically disruptive industry. By having a vibrant industry that can take up research it will catalyse further research within the university and conversely that will translate into more competitive products and services for the industry.”

The CPUT Satellite Programme is hosted by the French South African Institute of Technology and is strategically supported by the South African government through The Department of Science and Technology, The SA National Space Agency, The National Research Foundation and Development Finance Institutions. Our key industry partners include Stone Three and Etse Electronics in South Africa, and Clyde Space in Scotland.

Written by Ilse Fredericks


Provides coverage for the Health and Wellness Sciences and Informatics and Design Faculties.