Sias Mostert, chairman of South African company Space Commercial Services (SCS), has called for a national – even regional – Internet of Things (IoT) nanosatellite constellation that would provide dedicated and perhaps even persistent coverage of South Africa and neighbouring countries.
“Space has a key role to play in enabling Industry 4.0, no matter how remote your location in Africa. Space is now ubiquitous in many respects in our economy…Space technology can really enable the Fourth Industrial Revolution over all geographies,” Mostert is quoted as saying in Creamer Media’s Engineering News.
Mostert made his call at the recent 2019 conference of the Aeronautical Society of South Africa in the capital city of Pretoria.
Highlighting the satellite research and development and manufacturing ecosystem in South Africa, Mostert said that the skills, expertise, technology, and manufacturing base already exists to start building a constellation of nanosatellites to provide IoT connectivity and sensor coverage.
SCS is a South African manufacturer of micro- and nanosatellites, their components, and payloads.
Mostert pointed out that the cost of such a constellation could range from approximately U.S.$40 million for basic coverage of nanosatellites passing overhead several times a day through to a cost of U.S.$200 to U.S.$400 million for a large constellation that would provide persistent overhead coverage. The question, according to Mostert, is who in South Africa could – and should – fund this kind of programme?
“Countries invest in space programmes because they attract scientists, technologists and engineers,” Mostert said.