1KUNS-PF 1-U Cubesat
Mission typeTechnology demonstration
Earth observation
OperatorUniversity of Nairobi
SATCAT no.43466[1]
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type1U CubeSat
Launch mass1 kg (2.2 lb)
Dimensions10 cm (4 in) cubed
Start of mission
Launch date2 April 2018 UTC
Launch siteKennedy LC-39A
Entered service11 May 2018, 10:51 UTC
End of mission
Decay date11 June 2020
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Semi-major axis6,778.8 km (4,212.2 mi)

1KUNS-PF (1st Kenyan University NanoSatellite-Precursor Flight) was the first Kenyan-owned satellite.[3][4] The cubesat was developed and assembled by the University of Nairobi for the Kenya Space Agency, with technical support provided by Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency. The spacecraft was deployed from the International Space Station[4] are being launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.


The idea to launch a Kenyan-built satellite 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.[5] The University of Nairobi was the first institution to benefit from a joint project between the United Nations and JAXA.[5] The satellite was given the acronym 1KUNS-PF, which stands for which First Kenya University Nano Satellite-Precursor Flight. External technical support was provided by Sapienza University along with two Italian companies.[6] The cost of the programme was roughly one million dollars.[6] The satellite orbited 400 kilometres (250 mi) above the Earth.[7]

Launch and purpose

On 2 April 2018, the satellite was carried to the International Space Station on board the SpaceX CRS-14 mission which launched on a Falcon 9 rocket with help from the National Aeronautic and Space Administration.[8] It was deployed from the space station into orbit from the Kibō module on 11 May 2018.[5] Its signal was successfully received from a ground station in Rome by the students of Sapienza University. Its launch was the third for an African country after GhanaSat-1 and Nigeria EduSat-1, which went into service in 2017.[9][10] In addition to 1KUNS-PF two other nano satellites, Ubakusat and Proyecto Irazú were also on board the Falcon-9 rocket to the ISS. All three satellites were deployed into space from the ISS by Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai.[5]

The 1KUNS-PF was a 1 unit cubesat. It was an experimental cubesat, with the main mission being to create awareness to the locals on the benefits of space uses. On board the cubesat, there were camera payloads, which were used to take mapping images of Kenya and other East Africa countries within the vicinity of its orbit. The cubesat was designed to have a lifespan of one year and its operations were within the UN space use mitigation measures. 1KUNS-PF deorbited in June 2020.[11]


  1. ^ "Track 1KUNS-PF". University of Nairobi 1KUNS-PF Team. Archived from the original on 1 September 2020. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  2. ^ Peat, Chris. "1KUNS-PF - Orbit". Heavens Above. Archived from the original on 27 April 2021. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  3. ^ "Kenya's first satellite is now in Earth orbit". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Africa Live this week". BBC News. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  5. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 17 May 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  6. ^ a b Schearf, Daniel. "Kenya Steps Into Space with First Satellite Launch". VOA. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  7. ^ "1KUNS-PF" (PDF). University of Nairobi College of Architecture and Engineering. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 November 2020. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ Ngasike, Lucas; Kipruto, Kenneth. "Cheers as Kenya's first satellite sent to space". The Standard. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  10. ^ Taiwo, Shakirudeen (7 March 2018). "4 African countries with satellites in the orbit". Pulse.ng. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  11. ^ Adetola, Ayooluwa (13 December 2021). "The Kenyan Space Programmme". Space in Africa. Retrieved 28 November 2022.