Last weekend (April 15th), SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon 9 launch system, which this time was used for the Transporter-7 mission. There were many payloads on board, among which the first satellite of Kenya and Turkey, which will be used for Earth observation. It was the 24th mission carried out by Elon Musk’s company this year.
The most important moment for SpaceX is approaching, i.e. the debut of the powerful Starship launch system. Currently, the launch is planned for April 17 this year, while in the meantime Elon Musk’s company has carried out another launch of the Falcon 9 rocket this year from the Vandenberg Space Force Base. The launch of the Transporter-7 mission took place on April 15 at 00:48 Singapore Time and was the seventh of the previous missions carried out in the commercial program for the delivery of small-size satellite payloads (SmallSat Rideshare), which SpaceX has in its sales offer. The launch was delayed several days from the original schedule due to adverse weather conditions.
The launch phase went smoothly, and the Falcon 9 rocket placed the payloads in a Sun-synchronous orbit with a height of approximately 550 km above the Earth’s surface and an inclination of 97.5°. Falcon’s lower stage – B1063 – having completed its task, returned to land performing another successful touchdown at the designated LZ-4 (Landing Zone), located in the Vandenberg base, about 8 minutes after takeoff. Previously, it was used for missions such as Sentinel-6, DART and those aimed at launching new satellite units of the Starlink network.
The payload of the Transporter-7 mission, with a total weight of approx. 5 tons, contained 51 devices, of which definitely worth noting is the first ever operational satellite from Kenya, whose task will be to observe the Earth. The device, called TAIFA-1 (“one nation” in Swahili), is a 3U observation satellite that was developed by a team of engineers from the Kenya Space Agency. According to the information available, it aims to provide timely and accurate data in a variety of fields, such as disaster management, agriculture, environmental monitoring and natural resource management. As we read on the manufacturer’s website, the device is equipped with an optical camera that takes pictures simultaneously in multispectral and panchromatic modes,
It is worth emphasizing that the event is evidence of Kenya’s clear progress in increasing the production capacity of satellites in order to develop applications that bring both social and economic benefits and is an important milestone for the growing space sector in the Republic of Kenya. It is also seen as an additional impetus for African nations to create new scientific innovations and develop their space programs. Recall that the first African country to send a satellite into space was Egypt in 1988. As for Kenya, in 2018 it launched its first experimental nanosatellite from the International Space Station (ISS).
In addition to the above-described device, the Falcon 9 rocket also contained charges, e.g. Norwegian Space Agency, Colombian Air Force, American demonstration and university satellites, a small satellite of the Italian company Arca Dynamics, as well as other devices (micro- and nano-class, mainly in the Cubesat format) of international customers. Turkey’s first observation satellite made exclusively of domestic components has also been launched into Earth orbit, the presidential communications directorate has announced.
The device, called IMECE, will be used in the defense, emergency management, environmental, urban development, forestry and agriculture sectors. IMECE can take pictures all over the world – not just Turkey – thanks to its high-resolution electro-optical camera. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lauds the launch of IMECE, Turkey’s most advanced observation satellite to date.