New space company launched in South Africa

Swedish space company AAC Clyde Space has founded a South African-based subsidiary, AAC Space Africa, to design, build, and deliver space missions to the continent from its Cape Town base in the Western Cape.

AAC Clyde Space CEO Luis Gomes said the need for space services in Africa was growing rapidly as government, companies and communities sought efficient ways to support development and build out crucial infrastructure.

“We see great potential for small satellites to provide timely, accurate and targeted data for sectors such as weather forecasting, ocean monitoring, agricultural planning, and land management,” Gomes stated.

“The ability to provide data from space and monitor key issues across the continent will help Africa develop at a far more rapid pace over the next decade.”

“Adding local presence and expert knowledge to our existing commercial offering will put AAC in an excellent position to address these growing needs. We look forward to taking an active role in the South African space community and the wider market,” Gomes stated.

The company said it selected South Africa as the base for the subsidiary AAC Space Africa due to its established space industry and strong position in communication systems, including having highly skilled engineers and data scientists.

ZACUBE-1, the first South African-built CubeSat to be launched into space.

Dr Robert Van Zyl will manage AAC Space Africa as managing director, and Francois Visser will be the technical director. They bring more than 40 years of small satellite experience to the company.

Van Zyl and Visser pioneered the African CubeSat industry through several missions, including the first CubeSat launched by the continent.

“Their expertise spans all facets of new space technologies, with a special focus on communications,” AAC Clyde Space stated.

The South African team will initially focus on radio communication systems, and sales and marketing.

The company expects the team to grow quickly in the next year to meet demand from the African space economy, which the NewSpace Africa Industry Report 2019 estimates will grow to $10 billion (R151.7 billion) by 2024.

AAC Space Africa will also be the centre of competence for advanced radio communication systems for the entire AAC group, becoming the worldwide supplier of advanced radio systems for AAC’s space missions.

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New space company launched in South Africa