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Sapienza Students Develop International Satellite


A group of students from Sapienza and the University of Nairobi collaborated on the development of the first Kenyan satellite that will soon be dispatched from the Tsukuba Space Centre in Japan towards the International Space Station from where it will be launched into orbit.

The small satellite called Cubesat 1KUNS-PF (1st Kenya University Nano Satellite), which has been successfully delivered to the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA), was completed in less than one year.

Selected as the first beneficiary of the KiboCube Programme following an international call for tenders, the satellite was designed, constructed, tested and prepared for launch by students on the international first level Masters Programme in Space Mission Design and Management, jointly organized by the Department of Astronautical, Electrical and Energy Engineering at Sapienza University and the School of Engineering at the University of Nairobi.

The project was funded by the University of Nairobi and the Kenya Space Agency and was developed thanks to extensive international cooperation with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Italian companies NPC-New Production Concept and Roboptics srl (a Sapienza spin-off) that provide support for the development of the satellite, while JAXA and UNOOSA (United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs) provided the opportunity for the launch through the KIBO Programme.

The 1KUNS program is part of a broader collaboration agreement between Sapienza and ASI for activities at the Broglio Space Centre in Malindi, also as part of the Italy-Kenya Intergovernmental Framework Agreement.

“The international Master in Space Mission Design and Management, developed together with our Kenyan colleagues,” explains Fabio Santoni, Director of the Master in Space Mission Design and Management, “is an innovative tool for capacity building in the aerospace sector. The objective is to develop a local ability to plan, develop and organise at the institutional level, involving staff, experts and local institutions in defining the contents of the programme and its contents through the completion of a real space mission, such as Project 1KUNS."