A Kenyan made satellite is set to be launched from the International Space Station later this year.
The satellite was developed by engineers from the University of Nairobi in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa).
The engineers developed what is known as a nano-satellite due to its miniature size as it comes in the shape of a cube measuring 10 by 10 centimeter and has a volume of just about a liter.
It was developed through KiboCUBE ,a programme launched in September 2015, by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Jaxa.
The nano-satellite was handed over to Jaxa in Japan on Tuesday last week.
The cost of the project which was largely financed by Japan was Sh120 million.
The miniature satellite capable of performing commercial missions that previously required larger satellites.
According to Koichi Wakata, the Jaxa ISS programme manager, the small satellite will be delivered to the ISS in a larger vehicle in March before the expected launch set for April or May.
It will then be launched into space from Jaxa’s robotic arm on the ISS, known as Kibo.
“At Jaxa, we are committed to making every effort to prepare for the successful deployment of the Republic of Kenya’s first satellite utilising the unique capability of the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” on the ISS,” he said in a statement.
According to the UoN’s engineer Dr Jackson Mwangi, who was involved in the nano-satellite development, the 1KUNS-PF (1st Kenyan University Nano Satellite Precursor Flight) is the first satellite to be developed by Kenyans and first Satellite to be operated by a Kenyan University.
UoN submitted its application for the KiboCUBE selection and beat other global institutions to emerge as the winner.
“This is a very exciting moment and an important step in UNOOSA’s movement towards tangible initiatives in our capacity-building efforts. Innovative projects like KiboCUBE can achieve concrete results and have a real impact on space science and technology development for the benefit of all,” said UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo.
The Kenyan engineers at the UoN said it would use its satellite to test technologies it has developed for the future launch of a larger earth observation satellite.