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Tuesday, 25 January 2022

ASIC team reaches milestone

INNOVATION: African Space Innovation Centre team is happy with the progress made by the Marine Domain Awareness Satellites mission which was successfully launched recently. INNOVATION: African Space Innovation Centre team is happy with the progress made by the Marine Domain Awareness Satellites mission which was successfully launched recently.

CPUT’s African Space Innovation Centre (ASIC) team, who recently  launched the continent’s first satellite constellation, the Marine Domain Awareness Satellites (MDASat) aboard US aerospace company SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, has achieved the first milestone with the three satellites, which is to communicate with them and receive the beacon from each satellite.

Acting Chief Engineer on the project, Nyameko Royi says: “At 22:55 hours after the launch we managed to receive the beacon from all three satellites and verified their status with correct battery voltage, the status of the On-Board Computer Image and deployment of the UHF antennae. We managed to also send telecomands to the satellites and successfully received the telemetry.”

Royi adds that the team has not experienced any serious challenge as yet, “although we did have  Satellite A booting into fail safe mode, but that was sorted immediately by requesting the OBC to reset and within the following pass the issue was resolved”.

He says the team is currently in the process of commissioning the  Altitude Determination Control System which provides a total control of the satellites orbit such that they are nadir pointing, that is going to take about two weeks.  “The passes will be 12 if we include ZACube-2 with four satellites and these are estimated useable passes. Potentially we have 24 passes but some of them won’t be useable with very low elevation.”  Reflecting on the progress made since the launch, Royi says: “We are all excited about the project, we are hopeful that we are not to experience any major concerns from the satellites.”

Royi  also states that the current mission is sanctioned by the Department of Science and Innovation to observe the Maritime Domain Awareness to feed into Operation Phakisa by submitting the captured data to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Oceans and Coasts Information System  Integrated Vessel Tracking project.

The team has not commissioned the data link yet. “With regard to ZACube-2, we have six passes a day we have three in the morning and we have another three in the evening,” Royi elaborates.

In addition, Royi says: “I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the project, current CPUT employees and former colleagues. I would like to extend this appreciation to other companies that support our mission being directly or indirectly involved with the mission. As a team we would like to thank the CPUT management for their support of the programme from the VC, DVC, Dean and HOD down to trainee lab technicians that provided invaluable time and support for all our programmes and missions.”

Written by Aphiwe Boyce