Kenya’s 3U Earth observation satellite, the Taifa-1, designed and developed by SayariLabs and EnduroSat, will launch aboard SpaceX‘s Falcon-9 Rocket at the Space Launch Complex 4E, Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, United States of America (USA) later this year. In addition, a delegation team, led by the Defence Principal Secretary Patrick Mariru from Kenya, will travel to the USA to witness the launch of the Taifa-1.
The satellite mission was established to leverage its hyperspectral camera to enable the availability of accurate and timely Earth observation data for relevant stakeholders in a wide range of sectors to make strategic developmental decisions in the country. In addition, satellite data from Taifa-1 will enable authorities to support the agricultural industry, alleviate food insecurity, ensure efficiently managed natural resources, and enable proper environmental observations, among other benefits.
In addition, the satellite launch signifies Kenya’s noticeable stride in advancing satellite manufacturing capabilities to develop applications for socio-economic benefits.
While speaking on the importance of the project, the Acting Director of the Kenya Space Agency, Brigadier Hillary Kipkosgey, reiterated that “the mission plays a pivotal role in putting Kenya on the global map because of its contributions to the growth of satellite development, data analysis and processing and development of applications in Africa. Moreover, space is the next frontier in many ways, and we are happy to be part of this progress. It is a moment of pride.”
Furthermore, Brigadier Hillary Kipkosgey commented on the value of space science, technologies and applications as an essential enabler and driver of inclusive national prosperity in Kenya. To this end, he reiterated that KSA would establish capacity-building programmes to build space systems engineering, space operations, data processing and analytics, ground station services and operations.
A team of Kenyan engineers from SayariLabs executed the construction and design of the Taifa-1. However, the testing and manufacturing of the parts were done in collaboration with Endurosat AD, a Bulgarian aerospace manufacturer. The partnership with Endurosat AD was crucial in offsetting the cost of designing a satellite. In addition, the decision to have the satellite weigh a ton was to reduce the development time and the cost of launch and to create a low entry bar for developing countries without the capacity to launch large satellites.
With the launch of Taifa-1 Sat as the first stepping stone to developing a proposed constellation of small EO satellites for Kenya, the country will contribute significantly to spurring the growth of the satellite development, data analytics and processing, and applications development capabilities of Kenya’s budding space economy.
However, developing higher capacity systems requires significant investment in research and development, leveraging mutually beneficial international cooperation, and establishing partnerships between government, academia, and industry. Thus, KSA has invited partners and stakeholders for collaborative purposes to mark this important milestone and celebrate Kenya’s advancement in the space sector. “We welcome collaborations that will promote the utilisation of space technology and earth observation data, catalyse sharing of knowledge and resources, and help promote innovation and collaboration in developing space technology in Kenya.” the Acting Director commented.
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