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South Africa plans to launch space agency

Johannesburg, South Africa, 1 Aug 2006: South Africa plans to launch a space agency to promote cutting edge technology, including satellite development, on the world’s poorest continent, a senior government official said on July 31.

“We hope the space agency will be off the ground within a year. It is still being planned,” said Pontsho Maruping, the Chief Director responsible for frontier programs in South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology.

“It will be responsible for coordinating all space science and technology activities and it will support the development of new technologies,” she said. The South African cabinet last week gave the preliminary green light for the agency. The science department still needs to come back to the cabinet with proposals for the structure and any funding that will be required.

But its space agency will not be the first on the continent. “Space Race” by Nigeria, had already launched its own space agency five years ago in a bid to develop satellite technology and identify areas for mining.