Watch Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch three satellites for South Africa

SpaceX will launch the first three of South Africa’s Maritime Domain Awareness Satellites (MDASat) into space as part of the aerospace company’s Transporter-3 mission.

The launch is scheduled to take place at Cape Canaveral in the US state of Florida today, 13 January 2022, at 17:25 South African time. The planned launch is subject to change based on weather conditions.

Transporter-3 is a rideshare mission that allows smaller customers to split the costs of a SpaceX rocket launch.

South Africa’s satellites will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket and deployed in low Earth orbit at an altitude of 525km.

The Falcon 9 will be carrying 102 other spacecraft on the journey, including microsats, orbital transfer vehicles, and PocketQubes.

The launch marks a significant milestone as it is the first launch of a satellite constellation developed entirely on the African continent.

At full operation, the MDASat constellation will have a total of nine cube satellites to detect, identify, and monitor vessels in South African waters in near real-time.

Today’s launch comes three years after the launch of South Africa’s most advanced nanosatellite, the ZACube-2.

“Since its launch in 2018, ZACube-2 has been providing cutting-edge very high frequency (VHF) data exchange communication systems to the country’s maritime industry, as a contribution to Operation Phakisa,” higher education minister Blade Nzimande said.

He added that the Department of Science and Innovation had invested R27 million over the past three years to develop the MDASat constellation.

The DSI is collaborating with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology to implement the work.

The entire launch will be live-streamed on SpaceX’s YouTube Channel.

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Watch Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch three satellites for South Africa