Kenya Launches First Satellite Into Space

On the 15 of April 2023, at 9:44 AM EAT, millions around the world witnessed the TAIFA-1 satellite being rocketed to space aboard a Space X rocket from the US SpaceX facility. The satellite was shot through the clouds, some 550 meters from the earth’s surface in a section of the stratosphere known as the sun-synchronous orbit. This launch had reportedly been postponed three times due to unsuitable weather. This TAIFA-1 project has added Kenya to the top echelon of advanced nations operating in outer space. The satellite is said to weigh roughly 10kg and is worth KSH. 50 million

The Mission.
TAIFA-1 is expected to monitor changes in Kenya’s landscape and sea level. The exploration equipment is a Nano-satellite satellite reportedly equipped with a multi-spectral camera and a panchromatic camera that will enable the aerial view of Kenya and the identification of details as small as 16 meters.
According to calibrations, the satellite will reportedly fly over Kenya once every 4 days and transmit data for up to 7 minutes.

The Kenya Satellite Agency will receive the data for analysis and pre-processing in a space-ground station in Kasarani, Nairobi. The station also has an automated controller for satellite movements.
This data will be used for insight into the conversation about the state of the atmosphere i.e. climate change, Natural resources management issues like deforestation, Soil erosion, drought and weather patterns etc.

TAIFA-1 is expected to operate for a consecutive maximum of 6 years upon which it will experience what is known as “orbital decay”.

Kenya also intends to develop a network of interlinked satellites not only for maximum coverage of the sub-Saharan country and its climatic patterns but also for border patrol and security surveillance.

Kenya’s Journey to Outer Space.
Kenya’s exploration in outer space has not been an overnight achievement according to KSA’s acting director general, Hillary Kipkosgei who stated that the Agency had once launched an “ineffective” satellite.
“In 2018, the government launched a smaller satellite that was not very effective in providing data, but it helped the country develop its capacity for space technology,” said KSA’s Director General.

During the earlier development stage of TAIFA-1, Kenyan engineers were met with numerous shortcomings due to a lack of experience with such complex systems and the inadequacy of facilities for developing space-grade equipment. They, therefore, decided to recruit foreign space engineers and agencies which caused the project’s expenses to skyrocket to a whooping 50M Kenya Shillings.

This project has been met with mixed reactions from Kenyans with one side congratulating the agency for the stride towards space exploration while others insist on space exploration not being a priority for Kenyans, especially during a simultaneous cash & food crisis.

What do you think? Is this a case of taxpayer money well spent?

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