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Joint satellite launch mooted at IBSA Summit

South Africa: South Africa, India and Brazil have agreed to jointly develop a satellite to be launched into orbit for purposes of detecting natural disasters and for scientific research. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told a media briefing at the end of the latest India-Brazil-SA (IBSA) Summit meeting that the bloc will develop two satellites. “The first for climate studies and the second to observe the Earth,” he said. “They will benefit IBSA countries as well as other friendly nations”.

Speaking at the same briefing, SA President Jacob Zuma said  “this initiative as an opportunity to reinforce our shared development objectives. A joint satellite could lend support to areas like agriculture, education, energy, health, information and communications, trade and transport.”

Zuma said SA was “particularly excited about the proposal for an IBSA satellite project. It offers an opportunity to expand our cooperation into advanced technology, increasing our collective scientific and engineering capacity. We see this initiative as an opportunity to reinforce our shared developmental objectives.

The details of the project remain obscure. The Engineering News reports the space weather satellite will be built first with a planned launch date in 2012 and the Earth observation satellite will follow in 2014. “As yet, no budget for the programme has been released.”

The publication speculates SA will provide the satellite bus. The bus is the term given to the basic spacecraft – that is, the structure and the control, navigation, communications and power systems – on which the actual observation imagers and systems, experiments, transponders, etc. (depending on the type of satellite) are mounted. But most of the instruments to be mounted on the bus will be provided by Brazil.

“The Earth observation satellite is likely to carry South Africa’s MSMI imager, developed by Stellenbosch-based Sun Space & Information Systems (SunSpace) in cooperation with the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. Both satellites will be launched by India, the only one of the IBSA countries to have the capability to launch satellites at the moment.”

Source: Defence Web