The three satellites form part of the Ministry of Science and Innovation’s Maritime Domain Awareness Satellite constellation, Nzimande said on Thursday.
When completed, the constellation would comprise nine satellites which would “detect, identify, and monitor vessels in near real-time in support of South African maritime domain awareness,” Nzimande said.
He described the launch of the constellation satellite as a significant milestone for the country.
“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,” the minister said.
Nzimande added that although South Africa was making strides in the space industry, specialised skills were needed to take it forward to higher achievements.
In this regard, his ministry came up with a human capital development programme based at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology – called the Cube Satellite (CubeSat) programme – which sought to remedy the lack of professionals and skills in the industry, he said.
“As part of this programme, students are taught engineering principles using CubeSats as training tools. CubeSats are built using the same engineering principles as any other satellite, hence highly specialised and advanced skills are acquired through this programme,” the minister said.