Kenya’s First Satellite To Be Deployed Into Space On Friday

Kenya’s first satellite, which was built by the University of Nairobi, will be deployed into the space on Friday this week at about 1pm.

The event will be broadcast live on KBC.

UoN has invited interested Kenyans to arrive be at the university from midday to follow the events live from Japan and also from the International Space Station.

The satellite was delivered into the ISS on April 2. It is from this point that it will be deployed into space.

The ISS is a large spacecraft built by several countries to continually orbit around Earth.

UoN Vice Chancellor Prof Peter Mbithi said the satellite cost Sh120 million and was largely financed by Japan.

He said UoN engineers were helped by experts from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) to develop the satellite.

“This is the first outer space object registered by Kenya and the first Kenyan satellite that will go into space orbit,” Prof Mbithi said on Monday.

The satellite comes in a new form, known as nanosatellite, being an extremely small satellite in the shape of a 10 by 10 centimetre cube, which has the volume of just one litre.

Such miniaturised satellites are increasingly capable of performing commercial missions that previously required larger satellites.

Unlike conventional ones, nanosatellites are not deployed directly from earth but are first delivered into the ISS, where Japan operates a robotic arm that later spits them into the space.

Prof Mwangi Mbuthia, Dean UoN School of Engineering, said the school will host the base station.

“The satellite has a life-span of between one year to 18 months, after which it will de-orbit and burn up,” he said.

He said inside the cube are two commercial cameras and microphones to record sound and automatically upload it online.

He said these gadgets can enable earth mapping, outer space observation, and coastline observation among other capabilities.

The satellite was developed through a programme known as KiboCUBE, launched in September 2015, by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Jaxa.

Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma earlier said: “Kenya is very proud to be associated with and involved, through TICAD VI, in the development of the satellite.”

“We hope this is only a beginning of many collaborations and initiatives for Kenya under the KiboCUBE programme.”

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