Kenya space plans include satellite launches

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Kenya’s geographic location astride the equator makes it “advantageous” for satellite launches which, according to the country’s defence ministry, makes it “a crucial player in the future of space exploration”.

Earlier this month (June) Kenya staged its second Kenya Space Expo and Conference in Nairobi. It was attended by representative of 12 nations and over 400 local delegates with South Africa one of at least six countries exhibiting products and services.

The central African country is, a Ministry of Defence (MoD) statement has it, “is pursuing collaboration opportunities on peaceful uses of outer space with several regional and international partners”. Regional partners are named as Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Sudan with the target of developing indigenous capacity in space systems engineering and enhanced utilisation of space services, technologies and applications in socio-economic development by way of joint projects.

One example, in partnership with Egypt and Uganda, is an imaging system set to find its way to the international space station where it will be part of monitoring climate change.

At the Space Expo and Conference, Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Defence Aden Duale made public plans to establish a centre for earth observation at the Luigi Broglio Malindi Space Centre in Malindi, as well as an international training centre for space education and a centre for cubesat development in partnership with the Italian Space Agency. The centres, according to him, will enhance national and regional capabilities through training and apprenticeships for the next generation of space professionals.

The Kenya Space Agency (KSA) is ready to sign a memorandum of understanding (MU) with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to strengthen collaboration on peaceful uses of outer space. Indian High Commissioner to Kenya, Ambassador Namgya Khampa, shared lessons for Kenya from India’s journey in space characterised by high science and frugal engineering, the statement reads in part.

“India,” Khampa is quoted as saying, “had high returns on dollars invested, for instance, the mission to the south pole of the moon cost USD 75million largely due to our policy on frugal engineering by ISRO”.

The KSA is a state corporation mandates to promote, co-ordinate and regulate space related activities in Kenya. Its main responsibility is nurturing Kenya’s space sector, focusing on enhancing utilisation of space science, technologies and applications across public sector entities for decision support and planning. Additionally, the Agency seeks to develop a national space capability to support socio-economic development. Other priorities are growing the domestic space sector as the engine of growth for space economy to make it a meaningful contributor to the national economy.