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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


SA plans to have female astronauts on International Space Station

SA is no stranger to having citizens on the ISS after Mark Shuttleworth in 2002 became the first person to travel into outer space


[Update] Sansa said it does acknowledge aspirations for having a south African astronauts trained and contributing to global space exploration for the benefit of humanity amongst other space missions and projects that are aimed at positively impacting life on Earth.

“We are still years away from the realisation of this incredible opportunity; however, SANSA remains committed to formalising such plans with our space partners in the near future. We will be sure to make the announcement a priority to inspire and excite the future generations of Afronauts to take their place in global space,” Sansa CEO Humbulani Mudau said.

South Africa could have two female astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) in the near future.

This was announced by South African National Space Agency (Sansa) CEO Humbulani Mudau last week.

According to a statement issued by the Russian Embassy in South Africa, Mudau revealed the plan during the opening ceremony of a Russian space debris detection centre in South Africa.

The facility’s full name is the Russian Optical and Electronic Complex for Detection and Measurement of the Movement Parameters of Space

Mudau said South Africa plans to dispatch two female astronauts to the ISS and hopes to fulfil this plan in the next two years.

Space junk

Meanwhile, during the opening ceremony, Yury Borisov, Director General of Roscosmos, warned that the increase in participants in exploration and satellites in orbit would lead to an increase in collision threats.

“Under these conditions, it is important to develop space monitoring stations and strive for global coverage of space by such means.”

Borisov also expressed hope that co-operation between Russia and South Africa would develop in a dynamic manner, and the open complex would not be the last joint project.

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First SAfrican on ISS

South Africa is no stranger to having citizens on the ISS after Mark Shuttleworth in 2002 became the first person from the country to travel into outer space.

Shuttleworth paid about 20 million dollars to travel to the ISS in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft after months of training in Kazakhstan and Star City in Russia.

He spent eight days at the ISS in 2002 and performed some scientific experiments for South Africa at the ISS.

Nasa collab

In November 2022, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) partnered to build a new deep-space ground station in the country’s semi-desert Karoo region to help track history-making NASA’s missions to the moon and beyond.

The signing was followed by a sod-turning ceremony with NASA and Sansa.

Space agency officials on Tuesday said the station will come online by 2025 in Matjiesfontein, in the Western Cape.

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