UoN to deploy Kenya's pioneer satellite into space tomorrow

Set for launch tomorrow Friday May 11, 2018 at 1 pm, the satellite measuring about 10 by 10 centimetre cube and weighing 1.2 kilogrammes was delivered into a large spacecraft built by several countries to continually orbit around Earth commonly referred to as the International Space Station (ISS) on April 2. Kenya’s first satellite will be deployed into the orbit from the Japan Space Agency (JAXA) Tsukuba Space Centre in Tokyo, Japan.

Speaking in a press conference at the University last week, the vice-chancellor Prof Peter Mbithi said that the satellite was developed with the help of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) and the support of KiboCUBE a programme launched in September 2015 by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).

According to the Dean at UoN’s School of Engineering Prof Mwangi Mbuthia, the satellite christened ‘First Kenya University Nano Satellite-Precursor Flight (1KUNS-PF)’ lasts for about two years before de-orbiting and burning up. The 1KUNS-PF team application was the winner of a very competitive selection process and by using KiboCUBE.

“It is fitted with two powerful cameras and microphones, which will help it capture images and record sound before automatically uploading them online”, Prof Mwangi explained

“It will make it easier for scientists to carry out weather forecasting, earth mapping, outer space observation, climate change and will assist in the development of the multimedia sector in the country,” he added.

The satellite will be about 4,000 kilometres from the earth. The University has urged the public to be at the institution as from midday to virtually attend the launch, which will be aired live on KBC.


History will be made when the 1st Kenya University Nano Satellite Precursor Flight (1KUNS-PF) will be deployed into Space on May 11, 2018. The 1KUNS-PF team developed a 1U Cubesat which will be deployed on International Space Station by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The 1KUNS-PF team application was the winner of a very competitive selection process and by using KiboCUBE. The training of human resource and development of space technologies has been one of the leading catalysts for the development of microelectronic devices and telecommunications that have greatly transformed our lives.

Experience has shown that the advances in space science made by the space-faring nations have greatly contributed to the leadership and dominance of those nations in microelectronics and telecommunications and positively impacted on the growth of their manufacturing sector. Kenya now has an opportunity to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers through space science by building on the success of 1KUNS-PF.

Kenya’s first satellite 1KUNS-PF CUBESAT will be deployed into the orbit on Friday May 11, 2018 from the Japan Space Agency (JAXA) Tsukuba Space Centre in Tokyo, Japan.
The small satellite named 1st Kenya University Nano Satellite – Precursor Flight is the first outer space object registered by Kenya and the first Kenyan Satellite that will go into space orbit. 

Rapid development of technology has enabled miniature low-cost Nano Satellites to perform commercial space missions that previously required large satellites and large infrastructure budgets.

Kenya’s first satellite (1U CubeSat = 10cm x 10cm x 10cm) payload consists of two commercial cameras and experimental web audio upload and broadcast – capable of limited earth observation and audio broadcast.

The successful deployment of 1KUNS –PF heralds the next phase for UON/Kenyan scientists and Engineers to develop bigger high-resolution satellites (3U CubeSat) with serious scientific and technological value for the country.

1KUNS-PF is a result of scientific and technological collaboration between the University of Nairobi, School of Engineering – the KiboCube Team, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), University of Rome (Italy), and the Kenya Space Agency. The Principal Investigator (PI) is Prof. Jackson Mwangi Mbuthia, current Dean, School of Engineering, College of Architecture & Engineering, and University of Nairobi. The UON team won a UNOOSA international competitive grant in 2016 leading to the development of 1KUNS-PF with technical support from JAXA. The completed CubeSat was transported/ launched as cargo by NASA (USA) to the International Space Station (ISS) in April 2, 2018 from where it will be deployed into orbit from KIBO (a satellite deployment module) on May 11, 2018 at 1 pm Kenya time.

Commercial satellites have a considerable economic potential for Kenya. They enable earth mapping, earth observation, land use and environmental monitoring, weather forecasting, food security mapping and forecasting, communication, disaster management, coastline and border monitoring, outer space observation, management of forests, livestock and wildlife monitoring and management.

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