History will be made when the 1st Kenya University Nano Satellite Precursor Flight (1KUNS-PF) by the University of Nairobi team will be deployed into Space on May 11, 2018, from the Japan Space Agency (JAXA) Tsukuba Space Centre in Tokyo, Japan at 1 pm Kenya time.
The small satellite is the first outer space object registered by Kenya and the first Kenyan satellite that will go into space orbit. 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.
“It is with great humility that the University of Nairobi announces to the public that we have ventured into space science,” said Prof. Peter Mbithi, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Nairobi. “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,” said Prof. Mwangi Mbuthia, the Principal Investigator and current Dean, School of Engineering, College of Architecture and Engineering, UoN. “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 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).
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.
Guests will be able to watch it live at Chandaria Auditorium, UoN towers, 6th floor, from 12:00 to 2:00 pm.
This article was first published on the University of Nairobi site.