In just under two years, 50 spacecraft will purposefully destroy themselves in the Earth’s atmosphere, and a South African team is helping them do it.
Nanosatellites – also known as cube satellites or “CubeSats” – are small in the world of satellites, but are gaining traction globally as a comparatively cheap way to get a foot in the space-race door. These tiny satellites are 10cm cubes, weighing no more than 1.3kg, and can be stacked together to create larger satellites.
Robert van Zyl, director of satellite engineering systems at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, says: “Since 2000, more than 300 CubeSats have been launched … It is expected that 3 000 nano- and microsatellites will be launched over the next five years. The cost of a big satellite can run into hundreds of millions of dollars, whereas a CubeSat can be built for about $100 000 and launched for much the same, depending on the complexity of the mission.
To read more of this story, find the full article, which was first published in Mail & Guardian, here.