Kenya set to launch its first earth observation satellite

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A satellite developed by Kenyan engineers at a cost of Sh50 million is set to be launched into space on April 10.

The Acting Director General of Kenya Space Agency Brig. Hillary Kipkosgey says that the satellite named Taifa One, will be launched from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Kipkosgey says that the Earth Observation satellite, is a camera that looks on the earth and takes images of the earth surface to enable one to make various insights and interpretations on what is actually happening on earth.

“Through the satellite, we are seeking to address the problems that we face as a nation around climate change, agriculture and food security, drought, disasters and issues to do with the management of natural resources,” said Kipkosgey.

The Director revealed that the launch of the satellite is the first of the series of satellites that the country intends to work on in the coming years so that it could have a constellation.

It took a period of two years for the development team to come up with the Taifa 1 satellite whose testing and manufacturing of the parts were done in collaboration with a Bulgarian aerospace manufacturer.

The launch which will be broadcast live on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) TV will be ushering Kenya into the team of the few nations that have made progress in space exploration.

The satellite will be able to take satellite images for Kenya by July this year when the ground station where the images are processed for use will be commissioned in Kasarani, Nairobi County.

Kenya’s first effort to launch a nanosatellite from the International Space Station was in 2018. Egypt was the first African country to send a satellite into space in 1998.

By the year 2022, at least 14 African countries had manufactured 52 satellites, according to SpaceHubs Africa. They include Ethiopia, Angola, South Africa, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Nigeria among others.

By Diana Meneto

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