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Kenya’s first satellite is now in Earth orbit

The first outer-space object registered by Kenya has been launched and is now flying over our heads.

The news: Created by the University of Nairobi, satellite 1KUNS-PF was launched from the Japanese module of the International Space Station. The 10-centimeter-square cube-sat was originally launched to the station on an April resupply mission. This makes Kenya the first sub-Saharan African nation to deploy a nano-satellite into space.

Some background: NASA did launch a satellite from Kenya back in the 1970s, but it was not a Kenya-centric project and did little to benefit the country. After the launch, the country’s space program essentially stopped.

Why it matters: The barriers to space exploration are being lowered, giving more countries access to space. Cube satellites such as this one will enable things like environmental monitoring, weather forecasting, crop monitoring, forest management, and wildlife tracking.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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