Kenya Space Sector Formulation—Phase 4

In this phase, Kenya will begin to transcend to the Operator level from a User level of the space technology capability hierarchy pyramid. This progression will be realized through further expansion of the resources and capacities formerly initiated in the preceding phases. Expanding capabilities will further be augmented by the introduction of completely new competences.


Further expansion of the Human and Organizational Capacities within the space sector would entail departments creation and incremental staffing in the various institutions delineated in the Kenya space sector organizational framework. Following the recruitment of key leaders in the respective sector institutions, these CEO’s will be tasked with identifying and setting up the initial resources required to advance the space sector in accordance with the stipulated national space policy. Consequently, they will be tasked with the requisite inaugurating of preparatory nascent departments and offices, then, identify and recruit suitable candidates possessing the appropriate qualifications, skills and talent. To this facilitate this endeavor, the Space Commission and Ministry of Space can leverage on the existing organization and staffing mechanisms in similar government organs to initiate and cultivate the desired foundational human and organizational capacities.

The Kenya National Space Agency, National Remote Sensing Agency and National Meteorological Agency should identify and engage similar reputable partner(s) from countries with established space technology legacies and leverage on their rich expertise and experiences to develop proficient burgeoning human and organizational capacities. Moreover, multilateral institutions like International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), Group on Earth Observations (GEO), Square Kilometre Array (SKA), Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), International Astronautical Federation (IAF) etc should also be engaged to assist Kenya broaden her space sector’s human and organizational capacities during this phase.

The Kenya Commercial Space Enterprises Promotion Council and the Space Education Council should pursue a similar strategy to inaugurate and buttress their respective human and organizational capacities. Specifically, the construction and staffing of the graduate level National Space University should be undertaken in this phase. As previously stated, this institution should be modeled after colleges like the International Space University (ISU) and SUPAERO both in France. This is essential in order to expeditiously realize effective academic programs in space science & technology, space policy & law; and, space technology management relevant to Kenya. The Space Education Council in collaboration with the ministry of education and individually targeted universities would further facilitate the establishment of aerospace and space-research-related departments to initially offer Bachelor of Science degrees.

It is worth noting that a unique diplomatic charm offensive solely motivated by the desire to woo potential space-technology-transfer partners will have to be vigorously pursued by the government. This is crucial in accelerating the absorption of the space technology in Kenya. Such a move is a crucial component in the arsenal of an entrepreneurial state that Kenya has to become in order to deviate from the tortuous and expensive traditional paths new players follow in seeding new technologies from scratch. Consequently, this would be a decisive organizational capacity improvement activity of Phase 4 in executing the Kenya space sector agenda.

There are 3 space technology evolution key milestones that need to be initiated and vigorously pursued to attainment in Phase 4. They are,

1. Demonstration of domestic space technology on satellite(s) launched by the collaborating partner(s)
A key milestone indicating Kenya’s achievement as it grows its domestic space technology capability is inclusion of domestically developed space technology in a spacecraft built collaboratively with other partners. This spacecraft has to be launched and the efficacy of this technology demonstrated on orbit. This is the only way to entrench confidence in domestic space technology capabilities. For instance, Kenya can participate in such an endeavor by developing one spacecraft subsystem from the list of typical spacecraft subsystems below:
i) Attitude Determination & Control, ii) Thermal Control, iii) Structures & Mechanisms, iv) Propulsion, v) Power, vi) Telemetry Tracking & Control, vii) Guidance Navigation & Control, viii) Command & Data Handling.

2. Domestic development of a first experimental satellite to be launched by a collaborating partner
The next milestone would be to build a complete functioning spacecraft relying solely on domestic technological proficiency. This will be purely a technology demonstration exercise and a particular spacecraft size should be irrelevant as long as the typical 8 subsystems outlined above and a payload(s) are present. Parts and components would be sourced from known suppliers globally (as is the norm in the industry), but the expertise utilized should be exclusively domestic. Likewise, this platform has to be launched into space and the technologies demonstrated to function successfully on-orbit. This undertaking will avail vital lessons that are essential in positioning the domestic space sector on the desired relevant and sustainable path.

3. Achieving domestic sounding rocket capability
Introduction and mastery of sounding rocket (research rocket) technology would similarly occur in Phase 4. Sounding rockets are instrument carrying rockets that do not achieve orbit. This is a prerequisite step in developing a domestic launch capability. It is from this research that future, more capable space transportation systems (rockets) and spacecraft payloads (scientific instruments) would evolve from.

Comparable to Phase 3, continued bolstering of the political, legal and governance capacities to facilitate adoption of space technology will continue to be undertaken.

This phase could last between 5–10 years.

14 thoughts on “Kenya Space Sector Formulation—Phase 4

  1. Comment from Linkedin by Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty

    “I really like your website, lots of great ideas. I guess my one comment is on your proposed organization structure. Never have I come across a Ministry for Space. Space organizations and programs are usually under ministries of defense, commerce, president, foreign affairs, science and tech, economy, transport, innovation, education, communication, environment, trade and industry, research…. It seems it’s because “space” is used for the attainment of wider goals and objectives. What is your idea of the benefit of having a ministry dedicated to “space.”?

  2. Thanks for the comment Timiebi.
    That is a very good point you bring up. Historically, space programs emanated from defense departments because rockets were primarily a military application. Later on, active military conflicts subsided in contrast to a rise in scientific and commercial exploitation of space. Consequently, there was an imminent pressure to divorce significant aspects of space programs from military control and this led to civilian organizations like NASA being formed. However militaries still maintain their own space programs with budgets that dwarf those of civilian programs in many countries.
    Due to the ubiquitous nature of space technology application, many government agencies/ministries/depts e.g. commerce, foreign affairs, education, communication, environment, industry etc are key stakeholders but rarely the primary custodian of civilian space programs in the whole country. This role has tended to be dominated by a national space agency within a broader national science and technology cabinet or cabinet-like organ.
    However, in order for a new entrant like Kenya to expeditiously adopt and integrate space technology for national development in sustainable manner, a slightly different approach is required. Hence I suggest a ministry of space. This will be another manifestation of the ‘entrepreneurial state’ that I advocate for.
    Besides, other countries e.g. India, US already have such-like organs performing similarly intended functions but under different nomenclature and lack the veritable public oversight & accountability inherent in an explicit government ministry. A ministry will also attract better budgetary allocation, relatively lesser bureaucracy, better optics that hence serve to enhance societal space technology awareness etc.

  3. Comment from Linkedin by Olojo Olabamiji

    …as regards timi’s question would the Kenya National Space Agency, National Remote Sensing Agency and National Meteorological Agency be under the ministry of space. Also using the word space sounds abstract, why not a ministry of outer space or something that streamlines the meaning of space.

  4. Dear Olojo.

    Thank you for your comments.
    Yes, the three agencies you mentioned would be under the ministry of space as outlined in the Kenya space sector organogram ( )
    Regarding the name, outer space could work too (though it sounds archaic and has a redundancy ring to it in my opinion. But maybe the general public might find it easier to relate to.

    P. Waswa

  5. I just found this. Fantastic! I am wondering how come nobody seems to be advocating setting up a joint space agency with Ethiopia which I think is much further ahead than us.

  6. The premise is flawed. As a space professional from the world’s leading space country, I can tell you that trying to re-invent the wheel with less resources under less ideal conditions is a loser’s path. Procuring already developed hardware and deploying it for the benefit of Kenya’s military, civil and foreign policy objectives best advances the interests of all Kenyans.

    Than Kenya should identify a niche component or hardware to first try in your own satellites. After proving its capability, sell it competitively for all other space systems in the world.

    Imagine if Kenya decided that before anyone in the country can drive a car or fly in an airplane they could only do so in an automobile or airplane designed, integrated and tested entirely in Kenya? That is essentially what you advocate for space. The only companies trying to sell their space technical know-how are the worst manufacturers (French, British and Indian).

    Imagine if Kenya built a critical component in every 747 flying around the world today? You would have a specialized industry and thousands of high-paying jobs. But if you said, like space, we will build any airplane a Kenyan uses from scratch and develop everything in Kenya (or worse import it from the UK) than you remain a third world nation.

    Developing a presence in space for Kenya requires the disciplines of economics and political science.

    1. Liam,

      I am indeed appreciative to receive your thoughts. Ignoring the undue ubiquitous condescending tone in your reply, I am more than happy to respond to your posits.

      Firstly though, you seem to allude to a different premise (objective) from what this site proposes.

      Could you please articulate what you understand as the objective (premise) fronted by our advocacy; then, we’ll continue the discussion from there.

      Thank you.

  7. I believe in your course……. And i believe in inovative. Kenyan ideas….. Why dont you open up a facebook page n you will have a bigger audience

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