A Kenyan made satellite; developed by engineers from the University of Nairobi (UoN) is finally set to be launched in May 2018.
The satellite was developed when UoN was selected to be the first beneficiary from the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) KiboCUBE Program.
Prof. Peter Mbithi, University of Nairobi, Vice-Chancellor, announced the launch date during the Nairobi innovation week opening ceremony; where he noted that under the theme: “Innovation for a better tomorrow”; the university had an obligation to lead when it came to innovating and thus commended the engineers for their work.
“Our school of engineering has put Kenya on the global map by developing a satellite that is set to be launched in space by may this year,” said Prof. Mbithi.
Kenya’s journey to space
The KiboCUBE collaboration Program announcement was first made during the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, TICAD VI.
KiboCUBE was launched in September 2015, as a capacity-building initiative between UNOOSA and JAXA; to offer educational and research institutions from developing countries the opportunity to deploy cube satellites (CubeSats); from the Kibo module of the International Space Station.
The University of Nairobi in collaboration with the University of Rome “Sapienza” responded to the global announcement of satellite launch opportunities in the framework of the United Nations /Japan Cooperation Program on CubeSat (Nano Satellite) deployment from the International Space Station (ISS).
Applications for the first round of KiboCUBE selection closed in March, 2016 and a number of impressive applications were received. The application by the University of Nairobi for the launch of 1st Kenyan University Nano Satellite Precursor Flight (1KUNS-PF) using the ISS was successful after a very competitive global selection process.
While congratulating the University of Nairobi, Director, UNOOSA, Simonetta Di Pippo, said at the time:
“This is a very exciting moment and an important step in UNOOSA’s movement towards tangible initiatives in our capacity-building efforts. Innovative projects like KiboCUBE can achieve concrete results and have a real impact on Space Science and Technology Development for the benefit of all.”
Under the framework of the collaboration, these institutions will collaborate in terms of the design, development, testing and integration of facilities and manpower training for space missions through joint M.Sc. Programs and collaborative research that will be carried out during the 1KUNS-PF Project.
This will foster direct cooperation among Italian and Kenyan students and researchers. The 1KUNS-PF Project Ground Stations will be installed at both the University of Nairobi and Broglio (formally San Marco) Space Center in Malindi.