STADAN at Hartebeesthoek (1961)
In 1961 to 1975, Minitrack supported NASA space missions
In 1960 operations were transferred from Esselen Park to Hartebeesthoek and the Joburg Satellite and Tracking and Data Acquisition Network station (JOBURG STADAN) was born. This became one of the busiest network stations in the GSFC satellite tracking telemetry and command (TT&C) network. It was eventually equipped with three receiving links at 136MHz and later five-band and two powerful VHF transmitting systems. During its 15 years as a GSFC satellite TT&C network station, the Johannesburg STADAN received more than eight million minutes of data recorded on half a million reels of tape, tracking 400 000 satellite passes, sent millions of commands and supported more than 250 NASA launches. NASA ceased operation in South Africa at the end of October 1975. The CSIR established the Satellite Remote Sensing Centre (SRSC) in 1976 for the reception of geo-information from satellites. The first images were received from a European meteorological satellite, METEOSAT in 1977, followed by LANDSAT in 1980, and ERS 1 and 2 in 1994. In 1983 the SRSC became part of the worldwide tracking network of the French National Space Agency (CNES). The SRSC has supported more than 100 Ariane launches from Kounou in French Guinea. During the restructuring of the CSIR in 1988/1989, the SRSC became the Satellite Applications Centre (SAC), a programme of the CSIR. Since then SAC has grown to provide TT&C services to a multitude of international space agencies and aerospace companies as well as providing remote sensing data and value-added products to the geo-information sectors. In 2008 the Department of Science and Technology (DST) set out to establish a national space agency. This was realised after the approval of the National Space Agency Bill, which paved the way for the establishment of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), launched in December 2010. The existence of SANSA is to foster research in space science, advance scientific engineering through human capital and support the creation of an environment conducive to industrial development in space technologies within the framework of national government policy. The Corporate office at SANSA is responsible for the overall operations at the three SANSA directorates. The former SAC at Hartbeesthoek became SANSA’s Space Operation directorate; the Earth Observation directorate in Pretoria and, finally, the Magnetic Observatory at Hermanus became the Space Science directorate.