The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), through UNOOSA director Dr Simonetta di Poppo, have announced the winners for the Sixth round of the KiboCUBE initiative. For the third time, an African nation has emerged as an awardee of the programme. The Tunisian Ecole Supérieure Privée d’Ingénierie et de Technologie Appliquée [Private Higher School of Engineering and Applied Technology] (ESPITA) emerged as one of the Sixth Round’s two awardees. The award will see the Tunisian school launch the educational CubeSat TUNSAT-1 as the KiboCube programme.
The Tunisian Project Coordinator and Director-General of the School, Hana Aouinet, expressed her gladness. According to her, the satellite programme’s primary objectives includes ensuring that “30% of the satellite’s components will be manufactured locally in Tunisia”. It will also “support the development of the Tunisian legal framework for space activities”. Regarding the secondary objectives, she noted that they intend to “use the mission as an example to teach at least 500 young Tunisians the different stages of an aerospace project.” Another of the project’s secondary goals is to “Introduce at least 100,000 Tunisian citizens to the application of space technologies in their day-to-day lives.”
Dr Simonetta Di Pippo gave the opening address and noted Kenya’s inaugural success as an awardee. She also noted how the KiboCUBE project helped Kenya improve its space programme and noted how Kenya had won more access to space opportunities. She also remarked on Mauritius’s successful deployment and subsequent education influence.
His Excellency, Hikihara Takeshi, Japanese Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna, also noted the importance of capacity development and space democratisation. He used the opportunity to congratulate the awardees and expressed his belief that they would leverage the opportunity to enhance their space programmes.
The Tunisian ambassador and permanent representative to the International Organizations in Vienna, Mohamed Mezghani, congratulated the Engineering school and the team that developed the CubeSat. He also expressed his appreciation to UNOOSA and JAXA for the opportunity. He noted that “Tunisia looks forward to enhancing cooperation with UNOOSA, JAXA and other space institutions”.
Consequently, the KiboCUBE initiative will fund TUNSAT-1’s launch to the International Space Station and subsequent deployment into outer space.
The first round of KiboCUBE launched in 2016. KiboCUBE uses the International Space Station (ISS) Kibo for the world. It aims to provide educational or research institutions in developing countries that are members of the UN with opportunities to deploy cube satellites (CubeSats), which they design and manufacture, from the ISS Kibo. Kibo, which means hope in Japanese, is a Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) and the first contribution of the JAXA to the ISS programme.
The University of Nairobi in Kenya won the first round of KiboCUBE in 2016. Other past winners include the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (the University of the Valley of Guatemala), Mauritius Research Council, Surya University in Indonesia, Technical University of Moldova, and the Central American Integration System.
UNOOSA has also begun its seventh round as it opened application calls in July 2021.
Faleti Joshua is an avid lover of space in all its incomprehensible nature. He holds both an LL.B and a B.L degree. Joshua is a lover of music and a lawyer in his free time.