[FPSPACE] South Africa: update

Keith Gottschalk kgottschalk at uwc.ac.za
Fri Feb 4 09:11:14 EST 2011


     About a month ago, Jim O copied here a media release about the launch of the South African National Space Agency, SANSA, quoting the Minister of Science & Technology as announcing that she was commissioning an enquiry into how much of South Africa's space launching facilities could be revived.  JimO asked if I could add anything.
 
    Then, I responded that I rejoiced in the rhetoric. 
     But, since the international depression meant that the South African Govt. had given all departments across the board budget cuts of between 3% - 9%, we should not have expectations!   
 
    Subsequently I learnt the initial situation was even worse, a classic bureaucratic comedy. The statute founding our space agency was only promulgated in the Government Gazette after the deadline to submit budget requests for the forthcoming financial year. So our initial national space agency budget is ZAR zero  :(    :(      :(
 
    In reality, SANSA will be formed exactly as NASA was born, by merging NACA, Marshall Spaceflight Center, etc. So all these South African institutions carry on under their current departmental budgets. Scheduled to be renamed Directorates when they are transferred to SANSA are:
 
 - Hermanus Magnetic Observatory;
- CSIR Satellite Applications Centre (ie ground station & image processing)
- Institute for Satellite Applications & Software (ie Houwteq: anechoic, vacuum, thermal, satellite testing & integration facilities)
- Overberg Toetsbaan (Afrikaans: O'er the Mountain Test Range)
 
    Yesterday I was briefed that SANSA is expected to start with about twenty HQ staff. Including the 4 facilities, it will number between 100 - 200 persons. This includes post-doctoral fellows attached at any one time.
 
    On the budget, the Govt. usually does send to Parliament, half-way through each financial year, what we call the Supplementary Appropriations bill. To get on that is entirely at the discretion of the Finance Minister. Only the President may give him an order. All lesser mortals must say Please nicely, & motivate fully why they need more than the annual budget. South Africa's budget speech is always in February, about ten days after the State of the Nation address by the President. The Supplementary Appropriations bill is around August or September.
 
warm regards from the vicious southern heat waves, Keith.
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