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SpaceX is targeting Thursday, January 13 for a Falcon 9 launch of Transporter-3 to orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Transporter-3 will be carrying the CPUT MDASat - 1 constellation. The 29-minute launch window opens at 10:25 a.m. EST, or 15:25 UTC, and a backup opportunity is available on Friday, January 14 with the same window.

Falcon 9’s first stage booster previously launched Crew Demo-2, ANASIS-II, CRS-21, Transporter-1, and five Starlink missions. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Transporter-3 is SpaceX’s third dedicated rideshare mission, and onboard this launch are 105 spacecraft (including CubeSats, microsats, PocketQubes, and orbital transfer vehicles). A live webcast of this mission will begin about 15 minutes prior to liftoff.

Mission Plan


All times are approximate. The list below only reflects the MDASat-1 deployments, other customer deployments have been omitted for clarity. As stated above, a total of 105 spacecraft will be deployed during this mission.

00:38:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
00:35:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
00:35:00 1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway
00:16:00 2nd stage LOX loading underway
00:07:00 Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
00:01:00 Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
00:01:00 Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
00:00:45 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
00:00:03 Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
00:00:00 Falcon 9 liftoff

Launch, Landing, and Deployment

All times are approximate

00:01:12 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:15 1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:19 1st and 2nd stage separate
00:02:26 2nd stage engine starts
00:02:32 Boostback burn begins
00:03:47 Fairing deployment
00:06:36 1st stage entry burn begins
00:08:26 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO)
00:08:27 1st stage landing
00:55:22 2nd stage engine restarts
00:55:24 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-2)
01:11:01 MDASat-1a deploys
01:12:44 MDASat-1b deploys
01:12:58 MDASat-1c deploys

On Thursday 13 January the Cape Peninsula University of Technology is set to launch its third satellite mission into space from the Cape Canaveral launch site in the USA.

The MDASat (Marine Domain Awareness) constellation has two main priorities namely ocean economy and healthcare and has been mandated by the Department of Science and Innovation to enhance South Africa’s ocean’s sovereignty. Operation Phakisa, a fast track implementation of the National Development Plan, focuses on effective marine domain awareness. The Software Defined Radio payload being used in the mission aims to enhance the security and protection of South African marine resources.

MDASat is CPUT’s third satellite mission and follows on from ZACUBE-1 (TshepisoSat) and ZACUBE-2’s successful development, launch and operation. In the interim, a suite of commercial CubeSat parts have also been developed by CPUT engineers and these will also be in use on the satellites.  

CPUT’s Acting Chief Engineer on the project Nyameko Royi says increased visibility in space by more nations bodes well for all.

“This mission would mark the first constellation of satellites developed and designed in Africa. The more we get people involved in space the better, the more data we extract from space- the better for the world. This is a significant milestone for CPUT and South Africa,” he says.

Dean of the Engineering and Built Environment Faculty at CPUT Prof Marshall Sheldon says the MDASat launch is the latest development in a long timeline of space engineering events at the university, which first began in 2008.

“Each successful development and launch is a paradigm shift away from the traditional space industry norms and we are proud to be at the center of that. Attracting more undergraduate and postgraduate learners to careers in space science will ensure we can continue celebrating future successes,” she says.   


MDASat Specs

The first three satellites of the MDA constellation will carry an upgraded AIS receiver payload from ZACube-2 and will be capable of the following;

  •        Over the air upgrades which means software can be developed and uploaded to the orbiting satellite when ready.
  •        Raw date: The payload captures raw data and enhances the opportunity for diagnostic testing on signal interference and decoding messages.
  •        Long Range AIS: These are two specific channels to be used as uplinks for receiving AIS messages by satellite.
  •        More effective messaging scheme: The first generation payload was limited in how it could save data and have it extracted by the ground station. The enhanced data interface will optimize the use of the data transmitter’s bandwidth.

These enhancements pave the way for the future MDASat-2’s development and launch and minimizes the risk of damage to the current payload.  

SpaceX, the company founded by SA born entrepreneur Elon Musk, will be launching the constellation on 13 January 2022 at 17:25pm (Florida time 10:25am).

Members of the media and public can watch the launch live using this link www.spacex.com/launches the webcast starts about 10 to 15 minutes before lift-off and ends shortly after payload deployment.


Wednesday, 03 November 2021

Disrupting the status quo

The Faculty of Business and Management Sciences (FBMS) recently hosted its 6th Annual Diversity webinar.

 An academic in the Media Department is a member of a new working group on strategies to address mis/dis/mal-information in South Africa.

The South African Board of People Practices (SABPP),which is the standards and professional registration body for the Human Resource (HR) profession in the country, has  recently approved the full accreditation for CPUT’s undergraduate and postgraduate HR Management (HRM) qualifications.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Two young lecturers are rising stars

Two junior lecturers, who recently presented their first academic research work at the 2021 HELTASA ECP Colloquium, are scheduled to present at an international conference in November.

Dr Zayd Waghid is “honoured” after being selected by the Department of Higher Education (DHET) for the Future Professors Programme for 2021/2022.

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