Kenya launched its first satellite on Friday, May 12, 2018, at 1:30 pm. The University of Nairobi built the satellite, and they named it Precursor Flight (1KUNS-PF). The satellite is small, but it has the capacity of some large satellites.
The satellite will orbit the Earth. Precursor Flight launched from the International Space Station (ISS). The launch was broadcast live at the Chandaria Center for Performing Arts at the University of Nairobi.
The satellite will perform some functions that will contribute to disaster management. It will also aid in mapping the planet and monitor the weather, animals, and plants. The satellite will also monitor the countries borderline.
The Japanese government funded the project with SH 120 million. The project is to encourage Kenyans to study space science. A Japanese astronaut, Norishige Kanai said in a video he recorded from the International Space Station that he is happy about the development and he hopes to work together on future projects.
Kenya won a grant to build a satellite in 2016. The grant, offered by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) was announced at the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) held in Nairobi, Kenya.
The University of Nairobi’s Engineering School developed the satellite and handed it over to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in January 2018. JAXA is the agency that helped with the project. The agency transported Precursor Flight to the International Space Station on April 2, where they launched it.
The satellite will last from one year to one and a half years, and then the satellite will burn up.
The president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated the University of Nairobi for attaining such a feat and he also expressed his gratitude to the Japanese government.
Japanese Ambassador, Yoshihiro Katayama said the partnership between Japan and Kenya is inspiring.
This event is not the first time the country launched a satellite. The first one called Uhuru was launched in 1970. Uhuru orbited the earth, and it was dedicated to the x-ray astronomy. This satellite is not regarded much because it did not benefit a lot of Kenyans.
Kenya now joins the African countries that have launched in orbit. Ghana, South Africa, and Nigeria were the countries to have launched into orbit. Angola also launched into orbit. However, the satellite malfunctioned, and Russia is set to build a new satellite for the country.
There was a live broadcast of the launch of Kenya’s satellite on Kenya TV stations.