The Electronic Systems Laboratory (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).

Today, the ESL continues to specialize in research and technology development relating to the automation of air, space, terrestrial 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 8 academic and technical staff members and 45 graduate students work towards achieving the ESL’s project goals. Our facility is located on the ground floor of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. DockSat is a mission that will demonstrate the in-orbit undocking and docking of satellites. It consists of a 1U and 2U satellite which will dock and undock multiple times. This mission requires propulsion, accurate attitude control, pose estimation, and a custom docking mechanism.

The concept model of chaser satellite of DockSat

Current prototype of androgynous docking mechanism, with integrated LED markers and camera for optical estimation and electromagnets during close-proximity

The ESL website The Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department ESL LinkedIn