Kenya’s first satellite finally deployed into the orbit
Date and time: 
Thu, 2018-05-17 10:22

1 pm Kenyan time, May 11, 2018, will go into the books of history as the day that Kenya’s first satellite was deployed into the orbit.

The satellite named 1st Kenya University Nano Satellite Precursor Flight (1KUNS-PF) was successfully deployed from KIBO (a satellite deployment module) from the Japan Space Agency (JAXA) Tsukuba Space Centre in Tokyo, Japan.

1KUNS-PF is a result of scientific and technological collaboration between the University of Nairobi, School of Engineering – the KiboCube Team, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), University of Rome (Italy), and the Kenya Space Agency.

Speaking after the launch, Ambassador Amina Mohammed, the Cabinet Secretary for Education delivered a key message from the President, H. E. Uhuru Kenyatta. She said that the successful deployment of the satellite will go a long way in helping Kenya to advance into space science. The data collected by the satellite will be key in helping the government to make key decisions like weather forecasting and disaster management.  Principal Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Amb. Macharia Kamau noted that the satellite was one of the deliverables and an outcome of the TICAD 6 conference that took place in 2016 in Nairobi. “Our economy will become tech driven. Reliable data will be for early warning systems and data marking. Weather data will be key in disaster preparation”, he said. 

About the satellite

The 10cm x 10cm x 10 cm satellite is the first outer space object registered by Kenya and the first Kenyan Satellite that has gone into space orbit. Its payload consists of two commercial cameras and experimental web audio upload and broadcast – capable of limited earth observation and audio broadcast.

On April 2, 2018, the completed CubeSat was transported/ launched as cargo by NASA (USA) to the International Space Station (ISS); from where it was be deployed into orbit.

The successful deployment of 1KUNS –PF heralds the next phase for UON/Kenyan scientists and Engineers to develop bigger high resolution satellites (3U CubeSat) with serious scientific and technological value for the country.

The Principal Investigator is Prof. Jackson Mwangi Mbuthia, current Dean, School of Engineering, College of Architecture & Engineering, University of Nairobi. The University won a UNOOSA international competitive grant in 2016 leading to the development of 1KUNS-PF with technical support from JAXA.

Commercial satellites have considerable economic potential for Kenya. They enable earth mapping, earth observation, land use and environ mental monitoring, weather forecasting, food security mapping and forecasting, communication, disaster management, coastline and border monitoring, outer space observation, management of forests, livestock and wildlife monitoring and management.

Building the human capital and a satellite development capacity requires a long term commitment to a space science program.

The 1KUNS–PF project has created the opportunity for the University of Nairobi to work with JAXA as the satellite launch partner and Kyushu Institute of Technology of Japan as the technology partner for human resource development in satellite design, manufacture and testing to meet the quality standards set by JAXA for nanosats launch from ISS using KiboCUBE.

Depending on the mission goals for each year of the space program, the cost of design, manufacture, launch per nanosat and gradual setting up of the requisite laboratories will require a financial commitment ranging from 0.5Million to 1.0Million USD per year.

The satellite development activities in each year will incorporate new mission goals. It is proposed that every year, M.Sc. and Ph.D. students who show a great passion for space science will be recruited to join the satellite design, manufacturing, launch and mission operations teams.

The University of Nairobi invites interested collaborators and partners from both the Public and Private sector to work with us on expanding this very important program that will yield enormous benefits for Kenya.

UoN appeals for financial commitment to support the design, manufacture and launch of the nanosat constellation. We shall work with you as our collaborators to agree on the mission goals for the nanosats constellation.

Expiry Date: 
Sun, 2020-05-17 10:22