South African space agency examines new approach to engineering

South African space agency examines new approach to engineering

The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has reported plans to build a new engineering design facility that, it suggests, will bring immense benefits to the space industry in South Africa.

As reported in a recent SANSA newsletter, the European Space Agency (ESA) already has such a facility and has been sharing lessons learnt over 20 years with SANSA engineers.

SANSA, in collaboration with ESA, aims to establish the first so-called concurrent design facility in Africa.  The concurrent design facility was one area of collaboration, among many others, that was formalised at a SANSA-ESA workshop in February this year.

Applying concurrent design methodology in a dedicated facility will streamline big engineering projects. That is, the concurrent design methodology reduces technical uncertainty and project risk during the feasibility phase of engineering projects.

“This is a fantastic way for large infrastructure projects to become more efficient,” says Justin Witten, a space systems engineer at SANSA, adding that the ultimate goal of the facility will be to support space engineering projects all over Africa, eventually contributing to other sectors of industry and, more importantly, to human capacity development.

Witten says this kind of streamlined engineering design approach should be formalised as a national capability that South Africa needs. This could, he suggests, benefit not just the space industry, but any and all engineering sectors in South Africa and Africa.

Witten will present a proposal for SANSA’s new concurrent design facility in January 2020. 

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