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Stellenbosch space company winning international orders

3rd May 2024

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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South African specialist microsatellite high-speed communication systems company Cubecom, part of the Alphawave Group, has announced that it has secured “substantial orders from multiple high-profile international space institutes” for its leading-edge High Data Rate Transmitters for microsatellites.

It did not divulge the number or the identity of its customers.

“Securing these orders is not just a business milestone for Cubecom; it’s a validation of decades of hard work, innovation, and relentless pursuit of excellence by our team, and also by so many other local companies like us in our industry,” enthused Cubecom chief technology officer Sampie Booysen.

“We have enjoyed a revenue growth of 89% after launching our flagship product, the Microsatellite High Data Rate Transmitter (µHDRTX), which was on board SpaceX’s Transporter-6 into orbit in January 2023, on a groundbreaking microsatellite mission.”

The Stellenbosch, Western Cape, based company is sharply focused on a single segment of the space sub-system market, namely high-speed transmitters, antennas and downconverters, for use on microsatellites.

This has allowed Cubecom to develop world-class technologies and its product is currently the fastest transmitter available in the commercial new space market (that is, the market composed of private companies providing cheaper access to space or space-based platforms and services).

“While we have been consulting engineers for 20 years, collaborating with the space tech sector, and working with the likes of [Swedish new space company] AAC Clyde Space and [Dutch new space company] ISI-SPACE, these orders are a clear indicator of the global space industry’s recognition of our country’s engineering talent and innovation,” highlighted Cubecom CEO Johann de Swardt.

“It’s a story of how a focused approach, irrespective of a lack of government contracts or international funding, can lead to world-class technological advancements as we explore, understand, and utilise space for the betterment of humanity.”

The company’s products were space-proven, with a significant “flight heritage”, which was the “gold standard” of assurance for customers. The result was an acceleration of interest in these products. As Booysen pointed out, a new space mission’s whole return on investment was based on getting as much of the collected data back down to Earth, as quickly as possible. And Cubecom provided the means to do this.

In terms of the potential market, micro- and nanosatellites have to be deployed in large numbers (“constellations”) to provide effective coverage of the Earth (whatever their mission was). These normally started with a handful placed into orbit, and then the numbers were rapidly ramped up to typically 16 to 32.

“[S]o the [market] pipeline is truly exciting in this regard,” reported Booysen. “[W]ith the evolving space industry opening its doors to developing nations, it is rewarding to be able to compete in the same race as some of the biggest names in space tech and receive enquiries from some of the biggest companies in the world.”

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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