Satellite Competition to Transmit the Voice of Africa

by Lesley Stones

Jan. 25, 2007 – “AN UNUSUAL competition has been launched to find the voice of Africa, with the winner recording a message to be broadcast from SA’s new satellite. ”

The Sumbandila Sat should be launched by May, and once it is switched on the message will be the first signal to be heard from the satellite.

Sumbandila Sat will carry an amateur radio voice identification beacon built by the Southern Africa Amateur Radio Satellite Association. Now the association is looking for the ideal 15-second spoken message and has invited pupils of 16 years or younger to submit their ideas.

The winner will record the message, which will be programmed into the satellite’s speech processor memory, and he or she will win a laptop computer sponsored by the South African Amateur Radio Development Trust.

Details for the competition are available from Entries close on January 31.

The radio system on the satellite will let radio amateurs in Africa contact each other using inexpensive hand-held transmitters, receivers and antennas. A repeater on the satellite will record a short period of audio and then transmit it back to earth.

It is similar to the one on SA’s first satellite, SunSat, which was popular among radio amateurs worldwide and was often used in schools to demonstrate amateur radio and the science of satellite communication. “We are planning to do the same with Sumbandila Sat,” said the association’s president, Hans van de Groenendaal.

Sumbandila Sat is a project of the science and technology department and was built by SunSpace and the University of Stellenbosch. It will be shipped to Russia for launch from a submarine in May.