Kenya will launch its first operational satellite next week in a landmark achievement for the country’s space programme, the government said on Monday.
Taifa-1, or Nation-1 in Swahili, is scheduled to be launched on 10 April aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
“The mission is an important milestone,” the defence ministry and Kenya Space Agency said in a joint statement, adding that it would contribute significantly to the country’s “budding space economy”.
The observation satellite is “fully designed and developed” by Kenyan engineers and will be used to provide data on agriculture and food security, among other areas, the statement said.
Testing and manufacturing of the parts were done in collaboration with a Bulgarian aerospace manufacturer, it added.
An East African economic powerhouse, Kenya is suffering its worst drought in decades after five failed rain seasons.
The satellite launch will add to a push by African nations for scientific innovation and the development of space programmes.
Egypt was the first African country to send a satellite into space in 1998.
In 2018, Kenya launched its first experimental nano-satellite from the International Space Station.