The SAC Story commemorates the 50-year history of a South African crown jewel: the CSIR Satellite Applications Centre at Hartebeesthoek, now incorporated under the South African National Space Agency (SANSA).
In fact, our footprint in space started more than five decades ago in 1957 with two seminal events: the establishment of a Minitrack Station in South Africa as one in a network of tracking stations across the globe, established to support the United States space research programme and the launch of the world’s first artificial satellite by the Russians. The CSIR’s involvement in both these events – operating the Minitrack Station and tracking Sputnik-1 – set the trajectory for the country’s participation in the world’s space age.
Today, the competence and expertise of the men and women of SAC, now under the SANSA banner, is helping to coordinate and re-package South Africa’s national space capacity for greater efficiency. While the SAC epoch brought closure to South Africa’s first era in space exploration, the current era has brought about an increasing reliance on space-based applications to address major societal challenges worldwide.
The idea of a commemorative book was born in 2010 during a planning session for SAC’s 50th anniversary event. The stories of a history well-lived and significant pride in what had been accomplished brought home the fact that the SAC story was one worth telling.
We endeavoured, through the anecdotes and photographs in the book, to bring to life SAC’s participation in major space programmes, from the pioneering NASA days in the 1960s and 1970s, to the launch of SumdandilaSat, South Africa’s own, locally manufactured micro Earth observation satellite, launched aboard a Soyuz-2 launch vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Russia on 17 September 2009.
While sourcing material for the book, however, it became evident that a half-century of remarkable endeavour could not all be incorporated into the 180+ pages. The limited space allowed brief snapshots only of the many highlights that capture the essence of SAC’s memorable journey.
This website has been created to extend the scope of the book with contributions from all who shared the SAC journey.
We take pleasure in inviting colleagues, partners, families and friends locally and abroad with an interest, or who participated in SAC’s history, to share memories, stories and photographs on this site so that the SAC story lives on.
To participate, scroll down and submit your SAC story in the form provided. Be a part of the legacy.