Marcom Aeronautics & Space was founded in 2002 and has been designing and developing the CHEETAH-1 CSLV. Capable of delivering a 1,000 kg payload into Low Earth Orbit.

The company has submitted several proposals to government in this regard and would like to become involved in a government/private sector satellite launch initiative.

South Africa has existing infrastructure that could be utilised for local satellite launches, notably facilities at Air Force Base Overberg. Although the launch pad was destroyed as part of South Africa’s nuclear stand-down and the payload processing facility was mothballed, Overberg has retained almost all of its space launch capability, including mission control centre, radar and telemetry tracking facilities and range safety systems, says Mark Comninos, head of Marcom Aeronautics & Space. The only extra modifications needed would be to re-commission the payload processing facility and construct a concrete launch pad.

The CHEETAH-1 is a two-stage design. The vehicle will be powered by two regenerative cooled liquid propellants, gas-generator cycle rocket engines. The first stage would be powered by a single rocket engine with a total sea level thrust of 860 kN, while the second stage would have a single 58-kN engine. The complete rocket would stand 31.7 m tall, including the two stages, the interstage and the nose cone.

It would be able to put a 1,000-kg payload into a 200-km orbit at an inclination of 34 degrees, or a 650-kg payload into a 200-km orbit at a declination of 90 degrees, or a 650-kg payload into a 200-km polar orbit. It would be able to accommodate payloads with a maximum diameter of 1.6 m, and a maximum length of 4.2 m.

South Africa could be launching its own satellites as early as in 2016. This was the message that Mark Comninos, CEO of Marcom Aeronautics and Space delivered at the SA AMSAT Space Symposium held in Gauteng in April 2011.
Currently under development is the CHEETAH-1 CSLV, a new generation expandable launch vehicle designed to meet the needs of future local and global space transportation markets.

First, Marcom Aeronautics & Space is developing a rocket engine in support of its CHEETAH-1 satellite launch vehicle. The MAS-10K is a 10 kN thrust, regeneratively cooled, pressure fed, Liquid Oxygen/Ethanol rocket engine that is currently in development, manufacture and testing. Although the MAS-10K will be the prototype engine for the CHEETAH-1.

As a prototype research and development engine with limited chamber pressure and expansion ratio, the MAS-10K is not expected to be considered for flight, however, with further development and testing and with the addition of an appropriate radiation cooled nozzle extension, the engine could be used as an upper-stage kick- motor for orbital transfer trajectories.

These follow on engines, the MAS-58K and the MAS-860K are a technology step above the MAS-10K and incorporate a variety of additional technology. “With sufficient funding of these programs, MARCOM expects local launch capability could be achieved within 5 years,” the company said.

MAS-10K demonstrator

Two stage, expendable launch vehicle designed to provide launch services to inclined, polar and sun-synchronous low Earth orbits.
Performance Summary:
200 km, 34 deg 1000 kg
200 km, 90 deg 650 kg
Sun-synchronous Orbit: 800 km, 98.6 deg 439 kg
Two stages, each incorporating a regeneratively cooled, turbo-pump driven liquid rocket engine operating on a gas generator thermodynamic cycle. Burning a mixture of liquid Oxygen and refined Kerosene, the first stage booster is designed to produce 86 tons of sea-level thrust incorporating hydraulic thrust vector control for pitch, yaw and roll control. The second stage is designed to produce 5.8 tons of vacuum thrust steered similarly via electromechanical actuators.
Triple redundant flight control computers, receiving navigation data from triple redundant strap-down inertial navigation systems provide vehicle ascent control. Real time telemetry data, flight termination and ground tracking systems provide for reliability and safety of the system during ascent.
Payload Accommodations:
Usable Diameter 1.6 m
Usable Cylindrical Length 2.4 m
Usable Conical Length 1.8 m
Maximum Axial Acceleration 6.5 g
Maximum Lateral Acceleration 2.0 g
Semi-monocoque Aluminium skin/stringer and carbon fiber matrix composites. Tanks, Aluminum alloy.