New space company launches in South Africa

Swedish space company AAC Clyde Space has opened offices in South Africa through a subsidiary, AAC Space Africa.

AAC Space Africa will design, build, and deliver space missions to the continent from its Cape Town base in the Western Cape, the group said. The new subsidiary will also be the group’s centre of competence for advanced radio communication.

Dr Robert Van Zyl will lead the new company as managing director and Francois Visser as technical director.

The two men have more than 40 years of small satellite experience, having pioneered the African CubeSat industry through several missions, including the first CubeSat launched by the continent.

The team will initially focus on radio communication systems as well as sales and marketing. However, AAC said that the team is expected to grow quickly in the coming year to meet demand from the African space economy, which is set to grow to $10 billion (R152 billion) by 2024.

“The need for space services in Africa is growing rapidly as the government, companies and communities seek efficient ways to support development and build out crucial infrastructure,” said chief executive Luis Gomes.

“We see great potential for small satellites to provide timely, accurate and targeted data for sectors such as weather forecasting, ocean monitoring, agricultural planning, and land management.”

Gomes said that the ability to provide data from space and monitor key issues across the continent will help Africa develop at a far more rapid pace over the next decade.

“Adding local presence and expert knowledge to our existing commercial offering will put AAC in an excellent position to address these growing needs. We look forward to taking an active role in the South African space community and the wider market.”

AAC said that it selected South Africa as the base for its new subsidiary, as the country has an established space industry and a strong position in communication systems, with highly skilled engineers and data scientists.

AAC Space Africa will also be the centre of competence for advanced radio communication systems for the entire AAC group, becoming the worldwide supplier of advanced radio systems for AAC’s space missions.

AAC Clyde Space has previously been active in the African market through its European companies’ hubs, most recently by supporting Mauritius to become a space nation and track ocean currents with earth observation technologies.

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New space company launches in South Africa