Elon Musk’s SpaceX will launch three South Africa-produced nanosatellites into orbit as part of the upcoming Transporter-3 mission — the first wholly made in the continent of his birth to be sent into space.
The lift-off is scheduled to take place in the US later on Thursday, and is part of a so-called rideshare where companies or governments book a slot for their craft aboard SpaceX’s rockets. More than 100 space vehicles are taking part in the program.
South Africa’s satellites will be deployed in low Earth orbit at an altitude of 525 kilometres, the government’s Department of Science and Innovation said in a statement. They will eventually be used to monitor the country’s coastline.
“This will further cement South Africa’s position as an African leader in small satellite development, and help the country to capture a valuable share of a niche market in the fast-growing global satellite value chain,” said Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande.
Musk, 50, is the world’s richest person with a net worth of $282 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He was born in South Africa’s capital of Pretoria before moving to North America as a young adult.