Kenya is set to launch its first satellite dubbed Taifa-1 (Nation-1 in English) into orbit next week. According to the Kenyan government, this is a landmark achievement for the country’s space programme.
Details on when the satellite will be launched are not that clear but the Kenya Space Agency (KSA) hinted the anticipated launch will take place next week in California, between April 10 and 11.
Purpose of Taifa-1
The satellite will be used to provide timely and regular satellite data for decision support in agriculture, natural resources management, disaster management, and environmental monitoring among other sectors.
Kenya Space Agency acting Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Hillary Kipkosgey said satellites provide precise and timely earth observation data to stakeholders in diverse fields, and will develop Kenya’s technical capacity in the whole value chain of space technology development and application.
“The Taifa-1 satellite mission is an important milestone for Kenya’s space programme and is expected to contribute significantly to spurring the growth of the satellite development, data analytics and processing and applications development capabilities of Kenya’s budding space economy,” he said.
Designed & developed by Kenyan engineers
According to the statement, Taifa-1 is “fully designed and developed” by Kenyan engineers and will be used to provide data on agriculture and food security, among other areas.
The Ministry also added that testing and manufacturing of the parts were done in collaboration with a Bulgarian aerospace manufacturer.
Kenya is currently suffering its worst drought in decades after five failed rainy seasons.
The launch of Taifa-1 will add to a push by African nations for scientific innovation and the development of space programmes.
Egypt was the first African country to send a satellite into space in 1998.
In 2018, Kenya launched its first experimental nanosatellite from the International Space Station.
According to Space in Africa, a Nigeria-based firm that tracks African space programs, at least 13 African countries had manufactured 48 satellites as of 2022. Ethiopia, Angola, South Africa, Sudan, and others are among them.