In February 1999 South Africa’s first satellite, Sunsat-1, was launched. This 64-kg microsatellite was built by staff and students at the University of Stellenbosch and operated successfully for 2 years. The success of SunSat-1 was followed up by the 2009 launch of Sumbandila which was designed, built and tested in South Africa by more than 40 local companies, demonstrating the capability of South African industry to support a national space programme. Since then, in addition to helping international partners build their own satellites, South African industry and academia has gone on to build and launch an additional four CubeSats. South Africa is thus home to a variety of institutions and industry partners who play a significant role in the scientific study, exploration and utilisation of space and have broad competencies in satellite applications, satellite engineering and space science, and all their supporting technologies.
Situated in the Western Cape, which is the space hub of South Africa, and given the heritage of Stellenbosch University we have decided to host our conference in Stellenbosch. It is also ideally situated in that it is very close to local industry. Currently there are more than 10 dedicated space companies within a 5 to 50km radius, and this number does not even include our local supply chain, the down steam application companies or the various universities of which there are three in this area who have competencies in satellite engineering, satellite operations, optical instrumentation design and testing, synthetic aperture radar systems, data processing, as well as space policy and law.