SA Pupil Set to Phone Home from New Satellite

January 30 2007 – A young South African voice will be heard from space after Sumbandila Sat, SA’s second satellite, is launched in April or May.

SA Amsat (Southern Africa Amateur Radio Satellite Association) and the South African Amateur Radio Development Trust have joined forces to find the ideal 15-second spoken message, and are inviting pupils younger than 16 to write it.

The winner will record the message, which will be programmed into the satellite speech processor memory and transmitted around the world. Once Sumbandila Sat is launched and switched on, the message will be the first signal heard from the satellite.

The pupil whose message is selected will receive a HP laptop computer sponsored by the trust.

Sumbandile Sat includes an amateur radio payload that carries a voice identification beacon. It is a project of the Department of Science and Technology and is built by SA Amsat and SunSpace in co-operation with the University of Stellenbosch.

The satellite’s main function will be remote sensing.

The satellite is complete and will be shipped to Russia soon, where it will be integrated with the launcher in readiness for launch from a submarine towards the end of April or early May.

SA Amsat invites satellite enthusiasts to write the copy for the beacon text, to be uploaded before launch.

The message, which will be broadcast around the world, must have a South African flavour and be in English. It must also identify the amateur payload on Sumbandile.

Sumbandile is a Venda word that, freely translated into English, means “pathfinder”.

The closing date for the competition is this Thursday. Enter at

The subject line must read: “Beacon Text by (your call sign or, if you have no call sign, your first name and surname)”.

The message must start: “This is ZS0SUM in space …” followed by your message. The total message may not exceed 15 seconds.