Handed-over to JAXA the first satellite of Kenya, built by a jointed team of students from Sapienza University of Rome and University of Nairobi
Kenya is ready to send its first satellite into orbit. The satellite is the Cubesat 1KUNS-PF (1st Kenya University NanoSatellite), built by a team of university students from Sapienza University of Rome and University of Nairobi . The satellite, completed in less than one year, has been successfully handed over to the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) at the Tsukuba Space Center. The satellite, selected as the first beneficiary of the KiboCube program, will be launched in the next months aboard the International Space Station and then released in orbit from the Japanese module Kibo (http://global.jaxa.jp/press/2018/01/20180119_kibocube.html).
Besides the contribution of University of Nairobi and the Kenya Space Agency, the program is developed thanks to a broad international cooperation, in which the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Italian Companies NPC (New Production Concepts) and Roboptics srl (a spin off company of Sapienza) provide support for the satellite development, while the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) provide support for the launch, in the framework of the Kibo-Cube program (http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/psa/hsti/kibocube.html).
The satellite was designed, built, tested and prepared for launch by students of the Jointed International Postgraduate Course (Master Internazionale di Primo Livello) in Space Mission Design and Management, organized by the Astronautics, Electrical and Energetics Engineering Department (DIAEE) at Sapienza, and the School of Engineering at University of Nairobi. “The jointed International Postgraduate Course in Space Mission Design and Management established with the Kenyan colleague - Fabio Santoni, Director of the Postgraduate Course, says - is an innovative tool for building capacity in Aerospace in developing countries. The aim is to build capacity locally at an Institutional level, involving local personnel, experts and Institutions in the definition of the course contents and teaching activity”.
The satellite development was supervised by Fabrizio Piergentili of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (DIMA) at Sapienza. “Sapienza has a long tradition in nanosatellite development and hands-on education in Aerospace - Fabrizio Piergentili says - An international student team had the opportunity to develop the 1KUNS-PF mission with the supervision and support from an international team of experts. We hope to repeat this experience in the future”. “Building its own capacity in Aerospace has become a priority for Kenya - says Dr. John Kimani, president of the Kenya Space Agency - The opportunity offered by UNOOSA and JAXA with the Kibo-Cube program, the support of ASI, NPC, Roboptics and the jointed Postgraduate Course established by University of Nairobi and Sapienza, set up a capacity building process which is fast and effective”.