West News Wire: The government announced on Monday that Kenya will deploy its first operational satellite the following week, marking a significant accomplishment for the nation’s space program. 

On April 10, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Taifa-1, also known as One Nation in Swahili, is expected to lift off from the Californian Vandenberg Space Force Base. 

In a joint statement, the defense ministry and Kenya Space Agency referred to the mission as “an important milestone” and noted that it would have a major impact on the nation’s “budding space economy.” 

According to the statement, the observation satellite was “fully designed and developed” by Kenyan engineers and will be used to provide information on food security and agriculture, among other things. 

Testing and manufacturing of the parts were done in collaboration with a Bulgarian aerospace manufacturer, it added. 

Kenya, East Africa’s economic powerhouse, is suffering its worst drought in decades after five failed rainy seasons. 

The satellite launch will add to a push by African nations for scientific innovation and the development of space programmes. 

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

In 2018, Kenya launched its first experimental nanosatellite from the International Space Station. 

As of 2022, at least 13 African countries had manufactured 48 satellites, according to Space in Africa, a Nigeria-based firm that tracks African space programmes. They include Ethiopia, Angola, South Africa, Sudan and others. 

More than 50 African satellites have been launched as of November 2022, according to Space in Africa, although none from African soil. 

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