New S. Africa ground station to help NASA track flights

MATJIESFONTEIN, South Africa (Reuters) — A new deep-space ground station being built in South Africa’s semi-desert Karoo region will come online by 2025 to help track history-making NASA missions to the moon and beyond, space agency officials said Nov. 8.

Through its Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman or person of color on the moon by 2025, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) targeted October for an inaugural launch of its next-generation rocket ship, delayed for weeks by technical setbacks and foul weather.

“It won’t be until 2025 where we are going to send the third Artemis and the third Artemis will land astronauts on the moon, and … the first person to land on the moon [this time] is going to be a woman of color,” Badri Younes, deputy associate administrator and manager at NASA’s Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN) unit told Reuters.

The South African National Space Agency will establish, operate and maintain the station.