Kenya is set to launch its first operational satellite today: April 10, 2023. The Taifa-1 will launch aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
The satellite, entirely designed and developed by Kenyan engineers, is expected to provide critical data on agriculture, food security, and other areas to support the country's budding space economy.
The launch is a significant milestone for Kenya's space program, and the country's defence ministry and Kenya Space Agency have described it as an essential achievement for the nation. The satellite parts were manufactured and tested in collaboration with a Bulgarian aerospace manufacturer.
Kenya, East Africa's economic powerhouse, has been grappling with its worst drought in decades after five failed rainy seasons. The satellite launch is expected to provide timely data to support the country's food security initiatives.
The successful launch is part of a broader push by African nations for scientific innovation and the development of space programs. As of 2022, at least 13 African countries had manufactured 48 satellites, according to Space in Africa. However, none of them has been launched from African soil.
Egypt was the first African country to send a satellite into space in 1998, and in 2018, Kenya launched its first experimental nanosatellite from the International Space Station. The successful launch of Taifa-1 today marks another significant achievement for Kenya's space program.