Minister Nzimande launches state-of-the-art space weather centre in Hermanus

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, launched South Africa's new 24/7 state-of-the-art regional Space Weather Centre in Hermanus on Thursday, 3 November 2022.


The operational capability has been developed over the past three years and, to date, the Department of Science and Innovation, through the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), has invested over R70,89 million to enable the development of the 24 hours a day, seven days a week space weather capability.


SANSA had been operating the Space Weather Centre for the past 10 years, although with limited focus, monitoring the sun and its activity and providing space weather forecasts, warnings, alerts and environmental data on space weather conditions.


Just like harsh weather conditions on earth, space weather such as solar storms can have devastating impacts on satellites, national power grids, and communication and navigation systems. For this reason, early warnings and forecasts are crucial for protecting infrastructure from space weather phenomena. 


South Africa's significant investment will benefit not only South Africa, but the rest of Africa too.  Dr Zolana João, Director-General of the Angolan National Space Program Management Office, and Dr Painos Gweme, the Coordinator of the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency, were therefore guests at the launch.


Minister Nzimande said the launch of the centre was a truly historic development, and a further illustration of South Africa's excellence in science.


SANSA embarked on a three-year project in 2019 to grow the centre from its limited research and development focus to a full-focus 24-hour operational space weather centre dedicated to growing the nation's science, engineering, technology and innovation sectors.  This will offer opportunities to develop scarce skills and increase national research output, while ensuring that usable products and services are generated for the benefit of the nation and the African continent.


"It is yet another demonstration that the Department of Science and Innovation, together with its agencies, continues to respond to the socio-economic challenges of our country using science, technology and innovation as a catalyst for economic development," said the Minister.


Leading operations at the space weather centre is Dr Mpho Tshisaphungo, supported by nine space weather forecasters, most of whom are also young black female science graduates.


"The space weather centre has opened up many opportunities for young people in South Africa to develop a wide range of skills – from mathematics and physics to computer science – because we also need developers for our space weather product development," said Dr Tshisaphungo.


She added that it was a huge honour and responsibility to ensure that the centre ran an efficient 24/7 space weather operation.


The Minister commended SANSA for meeting its objective to support the development of the skills and expertise needed to give effect to national space initiatives.  It supported 46 postgraduate students in key space science disciplines in the 2020/21 financial year.  Close to 3 000 learners benefited from the agency's outreach and space awareness initiatives.


"SANSA contributes significantly to the national economy and job creation through various projects such as satellite development and testing for various space missions, big data platforms like data visualisation centres, the activation system over southern Africa, and the development of the required human talent," said the Minister.


Ms Andiswa Mlisa, acting CEO of SANSA, said the project began in October 2019 and was completed on time and within budget by the end of September 2022.


The establishment of this capability includes infrastructure development, instrumentation deployment, product and service development, and capability development through an investment in the required skills.


"The agency joined the International Space Environment Service and is contributing to this service as the Regional Warning Centre for space weather in Africa," said Mlisa.


The International Space Environment Service is a global network of space weather service-providing organisations.


This development demonstrates the value of science, technology and innovation in South Africa.


Veronica Mohapeloa at 083 400 5750 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Daleen Fouche at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Issued by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation.


Enquiries: Ishmael Mnisi at 066 037 8859.


© 2021 Department of Science and Innovations . All Rights Reserved.