NAIROBI: Kenya’s first operational satellite was launched into orbit on Saturday by a SpaceX rocket that took off from California, USA, according to images from the US space company.

The launch, originally scheduled for Monday night in the United States, was postponed several times this week due to bad weather.

On Saturday, a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket took off at 0648 GMT from the base at Vandenberg, California, before deploying several dozen satellites an hour later, including the Kenyan Taifa-1 (“Nation-1”, in the Swahili language).

Designed and developed by a team of Kenyan researchers, the satellite is intended to provide data for agriculture and environmental monitoring in Kenya, much needed in the East African country which is currently experiencing a historic drought.

In a joint statement last week, the Kenyan Ministry of Defence and the Kenya Space Agency (KSA) touted “an important milestone” that should boost Kenya’s “budding space economy”.

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“We have direct benefits from space exploration, we are going to be able to improve our food security,” Pattern Odhiambo, a KSA engineer who participated in the project, told AFP.

With the satellite’s multispectral camera images, “we will be able to have high quality earth observation data, this will help us predict crop yield,” he explained.

Kenya sent its first nano-satellite into space in 2018.

As of 2022, more than 50 African satellites have been sent to space, according to Space in Africa, a Nigerian company that tracks African space programmes.

Egypt was the first country on the continent to send a satellite into space in 1998.

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