Kenya with a SpaceX rocket launches first operational satellite to space

On Saturday, a SpaceX rocket launched Kenya’s first operational earth observation satellite from the United States, according to a live feed from Elon Musk’s company.

As part of disaster management and to combat food insecurity, nine Kenyan engineers developed the satellite to collect data on agriculture and the environment, including floods, droughts, and wildfires.

After three postponements due to bad weather, the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Taifa-1 satellite took off without incident at 0648 GMT.

“Taifa-1 separation confirmed,” Space X said in its broadcast when the satellite was released about an hour and four minutes after the rocket’s launch.

A model of a prototype of a 3U Earth observation satellite, the Taifa-1, is displayed ahead of the launch of Kenya’s first operational satellite, at the University of Nairobi’s Taifa Hall in Nairobi, Kenya April 14, 2023. Taifa-1 is designed and developed by SayariLabs and EnduroSat, and will be deployed onboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket to collect agricultural data that authorities plan to use to combat food insecurities. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

Capt. Alloyce Were, an aeronautical engineer and deputy director of Navigation and Positioning at the government-run Kenya Space Agency, told Reuters on Friday before the satellite’s launch, “We have the challenges that have been brought about by climate change, which the satellite, by virtue of being able to capture images (will be able to help monitor).”

“We can monitor forest changes, we can monitor urbanization changes.”

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According to the space agency, the satellite was built with the help of Bulgarian aerospace company Endurosat over two years at a cost of 50 million Kenyan shillings ($372,000).

SpaceX’s rideshare program on the launch rocket included 50 payloads from other countries, including Turkey. The rocket should operate for five years and then decay over 20 years.

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