In a significant milestone for Kenya’s space program, the government has announced that the country will launch its first operational satellite this week.
The Kenya Space Agency (KSA) and Defence Ministry revealed the launch of Taifa-1, an Earth observation satellite designed and developed entirely by Kenyan engineers.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry Taifa-1, which means “one nation” in Swahili, and will launch from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
The launch of the Falcon 9, which was scheduled for April 10, 2023, was postponed due to adverse upper-level wind conditions that would impact the flight trajectory, according to Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX).
The rescheduled launch is now planned for Wednesday, April 12, 2023, at 9:44 a.m. Kenyan time (11:44 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday, April 11, 2023).
The satellite is set to provide satellite data to support decision-making in areas such as agriculture, food security, disaster management, and environmental monitoring. KSA’s mission to design and develop Taifa-1 has taken 24 months to come to fruition.
According to the Kenya Space Agency (KSA) and Defence Ministry, the project involved researching and developing various components of satellite mission design, the complete satellite development cycle, in-orbit control, as well as data reception and processing.
The Kenya Space Agency (KSA) is a state-owned corporation responsible for coordinating, and regulating activities related to space under the Ministry of Defence. The agency’s primary objective is to facilitate the growth of Kenya’s space sector.
Egypt made history in 1998 by becoming the first African country to launch a satellite into space. In 2018, Kenya followed suit by launching its inaugural experimental nanosatellite from the International Space Station.
Currently, Space in Africa, a Nigeria-based firm that monitors African space programmes, reports that 13 African countries have produced a total of 48 satellites as of 2022. These countries include Ethiopia, Angola, South Africa, Sudan, among others.