African VLBI Network Training Site


Invited Talk and Tour: Friday 31 May - Mr Eugene Avenant


31 May 2019 08:30 - 11:00

Title: Visit to the South African National Space Agency (SANSA)

Author: Mr Eugene Avenant 
              Chief Engineer
                 Space Operations unit

Overview of the visit to SANSA:
During the visit to SANSA Space Operations facility at Hartebeeshoek (HBK), students will be exposed to the commercial application of space technology. The HBK station serves both the public sector (Space Agencies) and the commercial space sector. The facility hosts equipment from a number of agencies and commercial firms that perform TT&C (Telemetry Tracking and Command) functions for earth observing satellites, science satellites and communications satellites. SANSA utilises its own antenna systems to render services both to its internal customer (Earth Observation directorate) and commercial entities. SANSA performs LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phase) functions as well as image downloads and in-orbit testing. Complimentary to this, SANSA applies the knowledge it has gained in GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) to work on collaborative projects in GNSS applications.

During the visit, the students will receive a short lecture on the services required by the commercial space sector as well as the technology required to serve this market. Key differences in the application of the technology between astronomy and satellite operations will be highlighted and possible careers in the field identified. The visit will conclude with a tour of the facility where students will be able to see the equipment in operation and be able to get a feel for requirements of operating and maintaining a facility such as HBK.

More about the author:

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Eugene Avenant received his Bachelors of Engineering from the University of Pretoria in 1989. After his studies, he joined the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Aerotek, where he worked on RADAR front ends and antenna systems. In 1999, he joined the Satellite Application Centre (SAC), a unit of the CSIR. His responsibilities included the upgrade and establishment of a new Telemetry Tracking and Command (TT&C), Image download as well as stations and other satellite monitoring systems. CSIR SAC became incorporated into SANSA in 2011. He has also been involved in GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) projects through EC FP6 and 7 (European Commission Sixth and Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development), most notably the projects: AFSAGA (African Satellite Communication and Galileo Application), ESESA (EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) Service Extension to South Africa), SATSA (SBAS (Space Based Augmentation System ) Awareness and Training for South Africa) and, most recently, SBAS Africa, funded by the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA). He currently holds the position of Chief Engineer in the Space Operations unit.