Kenya's Taifa-1 Satellite Launched After Three Delays
© AP Photo / John RaouxA SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the crew capsule Endeavour lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday, March 2, 2023.
© AP Photo / John Raoux
Kenya's first operational Earth observation satellite Taifa-1 was originally scheduled to be launched into orbit on April 11, along with other 50 satellites on board of a SpaceX rocket. However, the launch was repeatedly postponed due to unbalanced weather conditions.
Kenya's Taifa-1 was finally launched into orbit on Saturday by the SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket, according to videos posted by the US space company. The launch took place at the Vandenberg Base in California, USA.
The launch, scheduled to take place Monday night in the Pacific Time Zone, was repeatedly postponed this week due to bad weather conditions. In particular, Kenya Space Agency stated that the delays were due to "unfavorable upper-level wind conditions" that would have effect on the rocket’s flight trajectory. On Friday, the launch was put on hold for a third time and postponed to Saturday.
The SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket took off from the air force base at Vandenberg at around 9:44 am before deploying 51 satellites from different countries an hour later, including the Kenyan Taifa-1, or "Nation-1" in the Swahili language.
The satellite was designed and developed by a group of Kenyan researchers and manufactured at Endurosat in Bulgaria. It is mainly intended to provide data for agriculture and environmental monitoring in Kenya. Pattern Odhiambo, an engineer who participated in the project, stated that space exploration is critical to Kenya as it would allow the country improve food security amid recurrent droughts.
14 April 2023, 17:26
According to the Kenya Space Agency, the Taifa-1 is the first of what is expected to be a constellation of small Earth observation satellites, "with subsequent systems of higher capability." Last week, the agency in a joint statement with the Kenyan Ministry of Defence called the launch "an important milestone" that is expected to boost the country's "budding space economy." It was noted that with the satellite's multispectral camera images, the country will have high quality Earth observation data that will in particular help to predict crop yield.