Kenya set to launch $1m satellite

Tuesday May 8 2018

nano-satellite

An artist's impression of an Indian-made nano-satellite in orbit around the Earth with a background image by Thomas Pesquet released on January 10, 2018. Kenya is set to launch its first locally made $1m satellite, supported by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. AFP PHOTO | LESIA | OBSERVATOIRE DE PARIS-PSL 

By ANNIE NJANJA
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Kenya is on Friday set to launch its first locally made Ksh100 million (about $1m) satellite, officially marking the country’s venture into space science.

The 10cm cube satellite, dubbed Nano Satellite, was developed by researchers and students of University of Nairobi (UoN) with the help of Sapienza University (Italy) and experts from Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

It will be launched from Japan. Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed will lead a delegation to witness its deployment.

“The UoN Satellite will be used in collecting data on climate change, wildlife mapping, earth mapping, weather forecast, coastline monitoring, transport and logistics,” said UoN vice- chancellor Peter Mbithi.

In 2016, UoN became the first institution to benefit from a joint project between the United Nations and JAXA that seeks to support educational institutions from developing countries to manufacture own satellites.

The project dubbed KiboCUBE was launched in September 2015. Japan provided Ksh100 million ($1 million) funding and a platform for construction of the satellite.

The university now seeks to scale-up its space programme by churning out larger earth observation satellites. They hope to also upgrade technology by including high resolution cameras for precise data and surveillance.

“The successful deployment of 1KUNS-PF (Nano Satellite) heralds the next phase for UoN and Kenyan scientists and engineers to develop bigger higher resolution satellites with serious scientific and technological value for the country,” said Prof Mbithi.

Prof Mwangi Mbuthia of the UoN’s school of engineering called for partners’ support to help the university upgrade its satellite ventures.

“We seek for support as we go into space exploration and space science. It takes approximately $1 million to successfully launch one satellite into space,” said Mr Mbuthia.