The modest room on the first floor of Kenyatta University’s Chandaria Incubation Centre is certainly too small for the enormous ideas it houses. Inside, Manilla papers with sophisticated computations and designs cover the room’s walls, showing trails of sorts.
On the benches are various devices, models, and wires protruding from a device we later learn is a nanosatellite, a miniature satellite dubbed KU Cube. The students debate the project’s final aspects while their group leader, Fidelis Makatia, an Electrical and Electronics Engineering student, is on the phone in another room.
The KU Cube measures 10×10 centimetres and weighs 1 kilogram, according to the researchers, which was one of the restrictions imposed by the Kenya Space Agency, the regulator (KSA). It is intended to be light to reduce the expense of deploying it and be cost-effective in the future if they decide to mass-produce it.
This is the work of a group of 11 students and 3 lecturers who are preparing to launch a nanosatellite that they think will give overhead surveillance and valuable information, especially to the agriculture industry. The project’s multidisciplinary team has been working on it since last year and expects to deploy by the close of September.
“We accepted the challenge when the Kenya Space Agency issued a request for proposals last year. In today’s world, quick and effective communication is essential, and satellites will be required in the future “Makatia, the team’s leader, adds
Aerospace Engineering students Tadza Stower, Jael Diana, and Vigil Suerin and ambitious Biomedical Engineer Allan Koech, Desterious Okora, a Mechanical Engineering student and Jeff Ayako are all members (Biosystems Engineering).
Barbara Kagwana (Bachelor of Science, Geography), Lydia Muhonja and Eric Otieno (Bachelor of Education, Geography), and Cynthia Ruguru (Electrical and Electronics Engineering) are among the others. Dr. Shadrack Mambo (Dean, School of Engineering), Dr. Victor Mwongera (Chairperson, Mechanical Engineering Department), and Ms. Joyce Achechi are their supporters (Mentor Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering).
The team has drawn on each other’s expertise and knowledge to get the project to this point. The geography students contribute their abilities in geographic information systems (GIS) as well as the weather to the endeavour. In contrast, the student engineers concentrate on the design, systems, and other finer details.
The team received a Ksh1 million research grant from KSA, and the university provided them with support, equipment, and office space. They hope to deploy a space-grade satellite into space once the prototype is put into orbit 37 kilometres above the Earth’s surface for 2 years, assuming all goes well.