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Mission type Technology demonstration
Earth observation
Operator University of Nairobi
COSPAR ID 1998-067NQ
SATCAT no. 43467
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type 1U CubeSat
Launch mass 1 kg (2.2 lb)
Dimensions 10 cm (4 in) cubed
Start of mission
Launch date 2 April 2018 UTC
Launch site Kennedy LC-39A
Contractor SpaceX
Entered service 11 May 2018, 10:51 UTC
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Semi-major axis 6,778.8 km (4,212.2 mi)
Eccentricity 0.0004315
Inclination 51.64[1]
Period 93

1KUNS-PF is the first Kenyan satellite to be launched into space.[2][3] The 10 centimetre square satellite was developed and assembled by the University of Nairobi. Technical support was provided by Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency and it was launched from the International Space Station.[3]


The idea to have a Kenyan built satellite in space began in September 2015 with the planning and design of the space module. Financial support was obtained for the project when the University of Nairobi won a competitive grant from the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in 2016.[4] The University of Nairobi was the first institution to benefit from a joint project between the United Nations and JAXA.[4] The satellite was given the acronym 1KUNS-PF which in full is First Kenya University Nano Satellite-Precursor Flight. External technical support was provided by Sapienza University together with two Italian companies.[5] The cost of the programme was about a million dollars.[5] The satellite orbits 400 kilometers above the earth.[6]

Launch and purpose

On 2 April 2018, the satellite was carried on the International Space Station onboard a SpaceX CRS-14 which was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket with help from the National Aeronautic and Space Administration.[7] It was deployed from the space station into its orbit from the Kibō module on 11 May 2018.[4] Its signal was successfully received from the Ground Station in Rome by the students of Sapienza University of Rome. Its launch is the third for an African country after GhanaSat-1 and Nigeria EduSat-1 which went into service in 2017.[8][9] In addition to 1KUNS-PF two other nano satellites, Ubakusat and Proyecto Irazú were also onboard the Falcon-9 rocket to the ISS. All three satellites were deployed into space from the ISS by Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai.[4]

The 1KUNS-PF is a nano-satellite with the size of a coffee cup.[3] Its operation will include the mapping of Kenya's land mass, the monitoring of the coastline and helping combat illegal logging activities.[3] The satellite will orbit the earth for about 12 to 18 months before de-orbiting and burning up in the atmosphere.[8]


  1. ^ Tracker, Orbit. "1KUNS-PF | Orbit Tracker". orbit-tracker.com. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  2. ^ "Kenya's first satellite is now in Earth orbit". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d "Africa Live this week:". BBC News. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d "Kenya's first satellite released from Japan's Kibo module at ISS". The Japan Times Online. 12 May 2018. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b Schearf, Daniel. "Kenya Steps Into Space with First Satellite Launch". VOA. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  6. ^ "1KUNS-PF" (PDF). Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Kenya's first locally made nanosatellite will be launched from ISS in May". N2YO.com – Real Time Satellite Tracking and Predictions. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  8. ^ a b Ngasike, Kenneth Kipruto and Lucas. "Cheers as Kenya's first satellite sent to space". The Standard. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  9. ^ Taiwo, Shakirudeen. "4 African countries with satellites in the orbit". Retrieved 17 May 2018.
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