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University of Nairobi wins UNOOSA and Avio Launch Opportunity

First NaSPUoN version. Credit: University of Nairobi

Ibadan, 13 February 2023. – The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and Avio have selected a consortium of the University of Nairobi (UoN), the University of Arizona (UA), and Space Trust as the first awardee of the ‘Accessing space with Vega C’ program. As a result, the team will launch a CubeSat, the NaSPUoN-0GPM2030, at no cost on board the Vega C rocket. The “Accessing space with Vega C” program comes under the Access to Space for All initiative, specifically its Satellite Development Track.

The “NaSPUoN-0GPM2030” satellite is a 3U class CubeSat aiming at building capacity in Kenya by bringing together international partners with existing technical capabilities. The University of Nairobi will house the satellite’s development, with support from the University of Arizona and Space Trust. Furthermore, the development will build on NaSPUoN (Nanosatellite Platform for the University of Nairobi), a test bed to integrate satellite technologies.

Speaking on the selection, Acting Director of UNOOSA Niklas Hedman said: “Kenya has been strategically utilizing different hands-on opportunities to develop its space sector, and we hope that the launch of this 3U CubeSat through Vega C will further advance the country’s capabilities.”

Likewise, NaSPUoN-OGPM2030 Mission Principal Investigator Mwangi Mbuthia said: “This is a great opportunity for the University of Nairobi to continue its nanosatellite capacity-building, which is a huge positive for the nascent space sector in Kenya. As a consortium, we are very grateful to UNOOSA and Avio S.p.A. for granting us the opportunity to launch a 3U CubeSat free of charge. This will go a long way in enhancing spacecraft engineering and satellite operation capacity at UoN and in Kenya in general.

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