Encyclopedia Astronautica

RSA-3 - payload
RSA-3 - satellite payload and kick stage
South African earth land resources satellite. Cancelled 1990. The South African RSA-3 launch vehicle was designed to place a small surveillance satellite of 330 kg mass into a 41 degree, 212 x 460 km orbit around the earth.

Following cancellation of the military missile program in 1989, the project was reoriented to civilian uses, with the declared missions of vehicle tracking and regional planning. However the new government cancelled the RSA-3, and with it Greensat.

The solar array for the satellite had a mass of under 7 kg and with three panels could supply 295 W of power. The thermal satellite blanket insulated the payload from temperatures ranging from -80 degrees C to + 100 degrees C. Certain technology on the satellite was probably derived from that of the Israeli Ofeq satellites. However Greensat was over twice the mass of the Ofeq, due to the favorable launch azimuth for the RSA-3 launch vehicle from South Africa as compared to due-West launch of the similar Shavit booster from Israel.


Electric System: 295.00 average kW.

Gross mass: 330 kg (720 lb).

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Associated Countries
See also
Associated Launch Vehicles
  • RSA South African orbital launch vehicle. Israel and South Africa collaborated closely in rocket technology in the 1970's and 1980's. South Africa provided Israel with the uranium and test facilities it needed for its strategic weapons programmes. In exchange Israel provided aerospace technology. This included the capability of building the ten-tonne solid propellant rocket motors designed for the Israeli Jericho-2 missile. These motors were the basis of two space launchers for an indigenous 'R5b' space programme. It seems that South Africa also planned to use these motors in a series of missiles to provide a nuclear deterrent. More...
  • RSA-3 The RSA-3 satellite launcher began development as an IRBM in the 1980's because of the perceived Soviet threat and isolation of South Africa. It was developed with the assistance of Israel and was believed to be essentially identical to the Israeli Jericho missile/Shavit launch vehicle. The objective of the satellite launcher was to place a small surveillance satellite of 330 kg mass into a 41 degree, 212 x 460 km orbit around the earth. Development continued even after South African renunciation of its nuclear weapons. However the launcher was found not to be viable commercially and so was cancelled in mid-1994. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Denel South African manufacturer of spacecraft. Denel, South Africa. More...

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