Kenya made a major stride in space science when its first-ever locally made satellite was deployed into the space at 1.30pm on Friday.
Due to its small size, the low-orbiting satellite, build at the University of Nairobi (UoN), was first delivered into the International Space Station on April 2nd, from where it was thrust into space.
Thousands of Kenyans witnessed its launching into space live online and on TV. Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed led a Kenyan delegation to Japan to witness the historic moment.
“I’m encouraged by the venture by University of Nairobi. It is an inspiration to Kenyans to study space science for development of our economy,” President Kenyatta said in a speech delivered by CS Amina.
The Head of State also thanked the Japanese government who offered the Sh120 million funding for the project. Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai said the launch should inspire more Kenyans to study space science.
“I look forward to working together in future missions,” he said via a video link.
The satellite was a joint project undertaken by United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and the UoN, acting Japanese ambassador Yoshihiro Katayama said.
“It is inspiring to see development partners from different corners of the globe – like Japan and Kenya - united in a scientific and technological initiative like this one,” said acting Japanese Ambassador Yoshihiro Katayama.
Its deployment to orbit the earth was broadcasted live to an audience at the University’s Chandaria Centre for Performing Arts.
“It will assist in earth mapping, earth observation, land use and environmental monitoring, weather forecasting, communication, disaster management, coastline and border monitoring and management of forests, livestock and wildlife,” UoN Vice Chancellor Peter Mbithi said in an earlier briefing.
“The satellite has a life-span of between 12 to 18 months, after which it will de-orbit and burn up,” said UoN School of Engineering Dean Prof. Mwangi Mbuthia.