South Africa's space technology relationship with Russia deepened with the inauguration of a Russian satellite ranging system at Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) earlier this week. HartRAO, located west of Johannesburg, is managed by the National Research Foundation, an entity of the Department of Science and Technology.
The DST's Deputy Director-General: Research Development and Support, Thomas Auf der Heyde, and Deputy Director General on International Cooperation of the Russian State Space Corporation (Roscosmos), Sergey Saveliev, officiated at the ceremony. Guests included representatives of the stakeholders involved in the construction and installation of the space system, as well as the Deputy Head of Mission of the Russian Embassy in South Africa.
Saveliev said the launch reflected the long history of the two countries in space technology.
"The history of the relationship between South Africa and Russia spans more than 25 years of mutually beneficial and successful cooperation and friendship. The launch of a new high-tech space system, produced by Russia and installed in South Africa, is not only another confirmation of our friendly relations but also a solid ground for further development of the scientific cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Africa."
The Director-General of the Russian Research and Production Corporation and Precision Systems and Instruments, Dr Yury Roy, who also attended the event, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the project.
"We are happy to see the result of our collaborative work and feel optimistic about future endeavours – we express our readiness to take part in potential new projects in collaboration with South Africa."
Speaking at the event Dr Auf de Heyde commended the relationship South Africa has with Russia. “Our science and technology cooperation is an important aspect of diplomacy. Thanks for your confidence you have shown to South Africa as a nation and today's event is another step forward in the field of science and technology for both countries", he said
Acting Managing Director of HartRAO, Prof. Ludwig Combrinck, said the launch was evidence of a productive relationship with the Russians.
"At present we are developing cooperation with Russian institutions and enterprises at multiple levels, and today's event is another step forward in the field of science for both our countries."
The Russian satellite ranging system installed in South Africa is the second laser and radio ranging system of the foreign segment of the Roscosmos network of stations developed in support of GLONASS (the Russian GLObal NAvigation Satellite System).
The first system was commissioned on 14 July 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil.
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