Students Bag Kshs. 1 Million at Kenya Space Agency Symposium

Sackey Freshia, one of the six students that represented JKUAT/File Photo

Six Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology students have won Kshs. 1 Million from the recently concluded Kenya Space Agency Research Chair on Nanosatellite Development symposium held, September 28, 2020.

The symposium was organised to leverage on academia’s technical capability and privileged knowledge on satellite development. Calling for submission of mission idea proposals from Universities in Kenya, the concept note in part read, “Satellite technology development require a high level of technical and scientific knowledge. Universities and Academia are hosts to this specialized and privileged knowledge that is needed to conceptualize, design and develop satellite missions.”

The Kenya Space Agency is keen to tap into the technical resource prevailing in higher institutions of learning and research to propel Kenya, and by extension Africa, towards space industry so as to tap into the benefits that accrue from space technology.

The team of six namely, Kelvin Mwaniki, Sylvia Jebet, Sackey Freshia, Jacob Okomo, Amos Wanene and Kenneth Kimathi all from the College of Engineering and Technology, emerged 2nd out of 11 teams with their project proposal on the Development of Nanosatellite Technology for Application in Sustainable Resource Management and Disaster Mitigation.

Sackey, one of the team members, said their proposal idea aimed at leveraging on nanosatellite technology for disaster monitoring and mitigation especially those that occur in remote areas where communication infrastructure is underdeveloped.

Project proposal title

“The team proposed use of a nanosatellite and a ground station, both of which will be transceivers meaning they have the ability to send and receive data. The data transmission will be done via radio waves,” elucidated Sackey.

How does it work? Sackey says optical and thermal imagery will be collected via a nanosatellite and sent to the ground station where they will be analyzed and if there is cause for alarm, the ground station will automatically send notifications to the concerned parties including the government, relief organizations and area residents. Also, the satellite will have the ability for self-diagnostics.

“The nanosatellite will send telemetry data such as temperature and positioning to the ground station. For instance, if the temperature is higher than it should be, a command is sent from the ground station to the satellite to shut down some of the satellite’s subsystems in an attempt to rectify the situation,” expounds Sackey.

Excited about the prospect of implementing the proposal, Sackey says the team is expected to develop a demo launch model which should be ready by March 31, 2021.

“As a kid, my dream was to work in the ever-changing and dynamic space industry – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). I am glad to be part of the Kenya Space Agency project as Kenya delves into the space technology revolution and industry,” said Sackey.

She believes space technology plays a critical role in support of socio-economic development and data-driven decision making.

The team of six are supported by Mr. Simon Njeru Manegene, a Lecturer of Electrical Engineering, among other faculty staff. They include; Dr. Hiram Ndiritu, Dr. Roy Orenge, Prof. Hunja Waithaka, Dr. Felix Mutua, Dr. Anthony Muchiri, Dr. Bernard Owiti, Dr. James Kimotho, Dr. Jackson Githu, Eng. J. Weru, and Dr. S. Aoki.

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