The passing on of Neil Armstrong-the first human to set foot on another celestial mass is undoubtedly the most recent significant news in the space fraternity and the world at large. Kenyans joined the world in mourning Neil as evident by the news of his demise and portrait emblazoning the front pages of major dailies. Tributes to commemorate his life and unique accomplishments poured in from all corners of the globe. Neil was indeed a true ambassador of space technology and a unifying symbol for all mankind. He was 82 years old. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
Other news that resonate well with Kenya’s space ambitions came from Sri Lanka. It is a developing country facing developmental challenges similar to those faced by Kenya and it recently announced plans to launch its first space academy. In an investment worth $20 million backed by Chinese technical expertise, Sri Lanka’s space academy is intended to manage the country’s first satellite scheduled to be launched in 2015. As we shall see in future posts, transfer of space technology is a highly political matter fret with nationalistic ideologies and protectionism especially in the West.
This is probably a telling moment for Kenya, i.e. as has been the case with infrastructure development, maybe Kenya should extend its “look East” policy into other economic sectors e.g. its space ambitions. This may lead to a relatively more expeditious realization of space technology competence. Besides, the Malindi spaceport has existed in Kenya for eons isolated from Kenya’s techno-sphere as if enclosed in an impermeable membrane stymieing outward technology flow.
Finally, NASA announced that it will launch a series of mini-satellites controlled by Google Nexus One mobile phone. This effort aimed at furthering low-cost space exploration using commercial off-the-shelf equipment augers well with Kenya’s intended entry point into space arena. It is these sort of paradigm shifts that new dynamic entrants like Kenya should embrace and foster as they strive to meet national developmental goals. Space technology growth in Kenya will definitely follow a different locus from that traveled by the current established players.
The next post will explore… How Kenya Should Venture into Space.