The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) in partnership with the Cape Town & Western Cape Convention Bureau has won the bid to host the SpaceOps 2020 conference.
The conference will bring together over 600 global Space specialists at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, with an estimated economic impact of R11 520 000.
This could not come at a better time, with the new Meerkat radio telescope launched in the Northern Cape on Friday.
Thanks to significant investments made by the Department of Science and Technology in satellite and telescope projects, the local space tech ecosystem is growing. Not only is this forecast to boost infrastructure development and the economy, but will also enhance the ranks of science and engineering graduates in the country.
Congratulating the bidding team, Wesgro CEO Tim Harris commented: “The Western Cape has been at the forefront of South African Space tech for many years: the tracking station established by NASA at Hartebeeshoek received the first images of Mars in 1965; the first miniaturized satellite designed and manufactured in South Africa was completed at Stellenbosch University in 1999; and more recently SANSA has allocated funds to Denel Spaceteq to develop the EO-Sat1 – a high resolution multispectral imaging satellite which will be used for a variety of urban management processes. We applaud the efforts of the team in convincing delegates that the Mother City should play host to a conference of this calibre.”
The team accompanied the local organising committee to SpaceOps 2018 held in France during June to promote the destination and entice delegates to register for the 2020 conference.
Launched in December 2010, SANSA became a Space Agency after combining other Space facilities in South Africa. Making significant advancements towards addressing its mandate of deriving greater value from space science and technology for the benefit of South African society, the Agency has five strategic programmes, namely:
- Corporate Support Programme: ensuring SANSA functions optimally with good corporate governance and operational efficiency;
- Earth Observation Programme: focussing on utilisation of space to address day-to-day societal needs including resource and environmental management, disaster management, food security, global change monitoring, health, safety and security, planning, development and service delivery monitoring;
- Space Science Programme: driving scientific enquiry, knowledge creation, technology development and innovation (located in Hermanus and the only Space Weather Centre in Africa. They also run regular holiday programmes for children aged 6 – 12 years, to entice them to a career in the sector);
- Space Operations Programme: vehicle through which SANSA interfaces with space assets world-wide and supports the international space industry;
- Space Engineering Programme: driving satellite manufacturing capability to ensure a level of self-reliance and develop the local space engineering industry.
Tiaan Strydom, the Chairperson of the local organising committee, added that: “SANSA is proud to bring the illustrious Space Operations 2020 conference to South Africa for the first time on the African continent and to host it in the beautiful Mother city, Cape Town.”
The Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Patricia De Lille said: “Cape Town is he ideas capital of Africa. We are enormously proud to see an increasing number of innovative gatherings choosing Cape Town as a destination of choice. This is once again testament to the fact that Cape Town is the city where leaders from across the world will meet and discuss the future of our continent and the globe.”
Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde added: “The Western Cape prides itself on its innovation and technology, so we are pleased that we will be welcoming over 600 of the world’s top space specialists to Cape Town. Securing this conference will also boost our tourism sector, helping to grow our economy and create more jobs in line with our Project Khulisa goals.”
Head of the Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau, Corne Koch, concluded: “We are delighted to have assisted in winning the bid for this important conference. South Africa is set to lead in Africa in space technology and we’re proud for Cape Town to contribute in this way.” Koch adds that the bid was further made possible with the support from the South African National Convention Bureau who forms a key partner in bidding for conferences to South Africa.