Airbus and NUST to set up Virtual Space Data Centre

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-Airbus and the Namibia University of Science & Technology (NUST) have agreed to collaborate in establishing a Virtual Space Data Centre in Windhoek to assist the country in monitoring and growing key elements of its economy. The Namibian Virtual Space Data Centre will receive satellite imagery from Airbus’s earth observation satellite constellation comprising the SPOT 6, SPOT 7, Pléiades 1A and 1B optical satellites and the TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X synthetic radar satellites. With their different characteristics but complementary capabilities, this combination of Airbus satellites is able to fulfil a wide range of needs.

“The Centre will find wide applications in Namibia in the fields of aviation, maritime and land transportation, urbanisation, mapping and surveying, human health, disaster management, food security and sustainable agriculture, environmental monitoring and natural resources management, and so on. This data will be made available to government ministries and various entities,” said NUST Vice Chancellor, Dr Tjama Tjivikua.

The Namibian Government has delegated NUST to host the country’s Institute for Space Technology and mandated it to implement the Virtual Space Data Centre as part of its strategic plan for developing the country’s aerospace, geo-information, earth observation and spatial science capabilities.

“Namibia is a key market for Airbus in Sub-Sahara Africa and we see this initial project as the starting point for a broader relationship with our partners at the NUST and the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, which will include other aerospace themes,” explained Jean-Marc Nasr, Head of Airbus Defence and Space for Africa, Middle East, France and UK.

Last week NUST signed a Letter of Intent with the Airbus Defence and Space organisation (ADS), which entails the two entities working together on key projects that include the Virtual Space Data Centre as well as collaboration on developing academic postgraduate programmes in various fields of Aerospace Technology, such as Satellite Ground Element Technology, Space Technology, Aerospace Dynamics research and industry.

“For the current year, NUST has adopted the theme, ‘Re-imagining University Engagement’ which commits us to reconceptualise the way we engage our stakeholders and the international community. It is indeed these interactions and collaborations with leading international universities and companies that bring value and relevance to the academic programmes and services we provide and the research we conduct. With ADS, this new partnership will boost our capacity to improve and broaden our engagement with partner institutions and other international partners, and thereby add value to society,” said Tjivikua, at the signing ceremony.

Close collaboration with Airbus will also facilitate the establishment of joint research projects and academic programmes, and will foster exchange programmes for faculty and students with Airbus in near future. Tjivikua noted that considering the tangible benefits for Namibia, Air Namibia boasts a fleet of 10 aircrafts out of which six belong to the Airbus family, meaning that the partnership will support the country’s aviation industry.

ADS is a global leader in engineering and technology and is the world’s second largest space company after Boeing and one of the top ten defence companies in the world, with a presence in 35 countries and 40 000 employees from 86 nationalities.

“I also hope that the nexus that exists between government, the community, Airbus and NUST will be exploited to push the boundaries of technology in Namibia and the world at large. NUST is looking forward to a productive partnership with Airbus Defence and Space, and will continue to rely on the multitude of partnerships to bring true value to society,” Tjivikua concluded.

Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2015, it generated revenues of €64.5 billion and employed a workforce of around 136 600.

Airbus offers a comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats and is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as Europe’s number one space entreprise and the world’s second largest space business. In helicopters, Airbus provides efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.

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