On 19 February 2011, shortly before noon, the founding members of the South African Space Resources Association (SASRA) signed the association’s constitution, making its formation official. SASRA was founded by Michael Neale, a graduate of the Mining Engineering Department at the University of Pretoria, to involve South Africa in the rapidly growing field of In-situ Space Resources Utilisation (ISRU).
ISRU is built on the idea that if humanity is ever to spread beyond planet Earth, then our presence in space needs to be self-sustaining. Orbital stations, bases and colonies on Mars and the Moon need ready access to resources that are simply not feasible to lift up from Earth’s gravity well in any meaningful quantities. In a nutshell, we need to find basic resources and build mines to extract them.
As Neale pointed out, South Africa is one of the world’s primary mining economies. We possess the technology and the expertise to build some of the deepest mines in the world. We certainly have a great deal to offer the field, and if we could marry our mining giants to our fledgling space agency (SANSA, officially launched last year) then we could rapidly become a world leader in space technology.
According to the association’s constitution, SASRA’s primary objectives are to improve the awareness of the global Space Resources industry and potential in South Africa, to encourage South Africans to contribute technically to the global Space Resources industry and to positively enhance the education attitude of the South African youth, through the use of Space Resources as a potential future involvement.
As one of the founder members, I will play an active role in the association and will be reporting on its activities here at Urban Astronomer.