Taifa-1, Kenya’s first operational earth observation satellite, launches to space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, US.
US-based Space-X, which manufactures and launches the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft, had earlier cancelled the lift off of the Falcon 9 rocket three times due to bad weather.
The initial launch was slated for Monday but was delayed by 24 hours to Tuesday due to bad weather.
On Tuesday, the mission was again delayed to Friday 9:48 EAT in the hope that by then there would be improved weather conditions but at attempt to launch in the midst of the bad weather was stopped by the director of the mission who called it to a hold slightly before lift off as the weather conditions could not permit the mission.
The launch was thus postponed again by 24 hours to Saturday morning 9:48 EAT when the rocket blasted off into space and approximately nine minutes later, returned to earth touching down on Space X’s Landing Zone 4.
The 70 metres tall rocket is a smallsat rideshare rocket that also launched 50 other satellites into the orbit including cubesats, microsats and payloads amongst them Turkey’s 800kgs high resolution Earth Observation Satellite, the heaviest payload at the top of the stack in what Space-X in the Transporter 7 mission.
The satellites will be used to collect greenhouse emission data, hyperspectral images and data for research.
Taifa one, is a 3U earth observation satellite developed and designed by Kenyans but manufactured at Endurosat in Bulgaria all in a span of two years at a cost of Sh50 million.
It is insured by Marsh Limited, a Space and Satellite insurance firm.
There are about six types of artificial satellites in the world which vary in size and attitude deployed depending on purpose. The largest is the International Space Station that serves as a habitable space lab.
An earth observation satellite is used to capture images of the earth; some are flown low to produce more detailed images.