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Kenya to launch its first university-developed satellite into space

Kenya’s first satellite to be built by the students of the University of Nairobi (UoN) will be launched into space on May 11, 2018 by the Japanese space agency JAXA.
Professor Mbithi.

Kenya looks to make history as the first satellite to be developed by the students of the University of Nairobi (UoN) will be launched into space this May 11, 2018 by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) from its International Space Station (ISS), according to a television report in NTV. The satellite was developed in partnership with JAXA.

A report from Daily Nation adds that the satellite is called the First Kenya University Nano Satellite-Precursor Flight (1KUNS-PF).

“This will be the first CubeSat selected to be deployed from Kibo, which is the Japanese Experiment Module of the International Space Station (ISS),” the report added.

Professor Peter Mbithi, Vice Chancellor of UoN called this a historic occasion “when we will be deploying the first Kenyan university satellite”.

Speaking further about the satellite, the Kenyan scientist who worked with the students explained: “The satellite is a 10×10 CubeSat that weighs about 1.4 kg. The important thing is that this is a journey we have started to develop higher capacity and to enable Kenya to participate in space exploration and space science. We believe that the University of Nairobi can provide the required leadership to enable Kenyans to become operators in space. This is an area where we haven’t engaged much but we believe that this is an important area in terms of the development of science and capacity to use space resources.”

Professor Mbithi added: “We hope that we can build more of these cubes so we can build a constellation and enjoy the wider benefits of satellite technology.”

UoN director of corporate affairs John Orindi is reported to have said that “the deployment ceremony will be done from Kibo Space Centre on May 11, 2018 at about 1pm Kenyan time”.

“The Cabinet Secretary, Ambassador Amina Mohamed, will lead a powerful delegation comprising of government officials and university researchers to witness the event live,” he added.

According to the UoN, the CubeSat was developed under the KiboCube programme run by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and JAXA.

Sources: Daily Nation, NTV