A ZAR26m (US$3.95m) Low Earth Observation mini-satellite, to be launched within two years, will give South African wine farmers a home grown alternative to monitor their vineyards from outer space.

At present, NASA and other international satellites are used to provide vital data derived from sophisticated imagery to help leading wineries to determine where best to plant top varieties, while assisting them with identifying critical watering requirements during the growing season.

The yet-to-be-named domestic project is a joint effort between the South African government, the University of Stellenbosch and SunSpace, a private satellite development company based in the Cape.

South Africa is looking at various launch partners, including the Russian military, to use excess submarine or land-based ballistic missiles.