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South African launch of agri-focused satellite will generate revenue of $108 million

The successful launch of the world’s first agri-focused satellite is expected to generate over USD 100 million in revenue, said the Chairperson of the South African Council for Space Affairs.

Pontsho Maruping said in a statement on Friday that the launch of the satellite from Cape Canaveral last week was a historical milestone in the South African space regulatory regime since it is the first ever-commercial satellite licensed in South Africa following seven government-sponsored satellites.

Dragonfly Aerospace launched the satellite, called AgriSAT-1 /ZA 008, on a Space X Falcon 9 rocket.

“This successful launch by Dragonfly shows yet again South Africa’s international capability in the space industry and will boost its credibility for investment in the space area. The launch will enable Dragonfly to continue with its other projects of building a constellation of satellites, whilst firming up localisation through the involvement of other companies in this sector and related sector,” Maruping said.

“It is understood that with this launch, there is an estimated future revenue to South Africa of USD 108 m pending successful operation,” Maruping said, adding that other benefits include an increase in the company’s productive capacities, employing and skilling more high-value personnel and enabling broader benefits to other related companies in the industry.

The satellite is the first of a seven-satellite constellation in low Earth orbit for customer EOSDA (EOS Data Analytics). The remaining six satellites of the constellation will be deployed over the next three years.

It is the world’s first agriculture-focused satellite constellation providing the agriculture and forestry industry with high-quality data to support efficient and sustainable practices.

Images obtained from Dragonfly’s satellite will deliver valuable information for harvest monitoring, application mapping, seasonal planning and assessments that analyse information such as soil moisture, yield prediction and biomass levels. This data will support growers in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and help them to develop sustainable agricultural methods.

Such information will have important environmental benefits for the planet and help prevent natural habitats from being diminished for crop growth and maintain biodiversity, the company said.

“This is a key moment for Dragonfly Aerospace, and we are thrilled to be delivering EOS SAT-1 with a number of firsts – the first imaging satellite designed and built by Dragonfly, the first microsatellite to be manufactured in South Africa since 2009, the first satellite of the EOS SAT constellation and the first agri-focused constellation in space,” said Bryan Dean, CEO and Co-founder of Dragonfly Aerospace.

Dragonfly Aerospace was founded in 2019 in the Western Cape province by a group of experienced aerospace engineers who have been at the forefront of South Africa’s uniquely successful aerospace industry since the launch of the country’s first earth-observation satellite in 1999. They have worked on every South African microsatellite mission. PTI

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