Our Story

The ESL was established in 1991 and served as the development facility for SUNSAT, South Africa’s first operational space satellite. SUNSAT was launched in 1999 and was operated from a ground station within the ESL for two years (well past its design life-time).

Soon after the launch of SUNSAT, a start-up company called Sun Space and Information Systems (SunSpace) was spun-out from the ESL in order to, amongst other activities, develop commercial satellites. The latest delivery, a partnership between the ESL and SunSpace, was SumbandilaSat, contracted by the South African Department of Science and Technology to Stellenbosch University. This satellite was launched in September 2009.

After the formation on SunSpace, Prof. Garth Milne lead a research thrust expanding the ESL’s activities towards the control and automation of air, terrestrial and underwater vehicles. Further ties were established with government and industry partners including Airbus, Armscor, ATE, the CSIR (DPSS, Meraka, NLC), the DTI and DST, Denel, the NAC and IMT.

The areas of research have been expanded to include:

  • Aeronautical Systems Research
  • Terrestrial Systems Research
  • Space Systems Research
  • Underwater Systems Research

Our Future

Today, the ESL continues to specialize in research and technology development relating to the automation of air, space, terrestrial and underwater vehicles. Typical activities include the support of PhD- and Master-level graduate study and the development of technology demonstrators and advanced vehicle demonstrators for industry partners. Approximately 12 academic and technical staff members and 45 graduate students work towards achieving the ESL’s project goals. Our 1200 square meter facility is located on the ground floor of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

Where are we located?

The ESL is located in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering on the ground floor.

Room E153, Department Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Stellenbosch University, Banghoek Rd, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa