A model of a prototype of a 3U Earth observation satellite, the Taifa-1, is displayed ahead of the launch of Kenya's first operational satellite, at the University of Nairobi's Taifa Hall in Nairobi, Kenya April 14, 2023. Taifa-1 is designed and developed by SayariLabs and EnduroSat, and will be deployed onboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket to collect agricultural data that authorities plan to use to combat food insecurities.
A model of a prototype of a 3U Earth observation satellite, the Taifa-1, is displayed ahead of the launch of Kenya's first operational satellite, at the University of Nairobi's Taifa Hall in Nairobi, Kenya April 14, 2023. Taifa-1 is designed and developed by SayariLabs and EnduroSat, and will be deployed onboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket to collect agricultural data that authorities plan to use to combat food insecurities. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

Kenya launches earth observation satellite with Elon Musk's SpaceX

Kenya launched its first operational earth observation satellite onboard a SpaceX rocket from the United States on Saturday, a live feed from Elon Musk's rocket company showed.

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya launched its first operational earth observation satellite on Saturday onboard a SpaceX rocket from the United States, a live feed from Elon Musk's rocket company showed.

The satellite, developed by nine Kenyan engineers, will collect agricultural and environmental data, including on floods, drought and wildfires, that authorities plan to use for disaster management and to combat food insecurity.

A monitoring screen shows the preparation of the launch of Kenya's first operational 3U Earth observation satellite, the Taifa-1, at the University of Nairobi's Taifa Hall, in Nairobi, Kenya, April 14, 2023. Taifa-1 is designed and developed by SayariLabs and EnduroSat, and will be deployed onboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket to collect agricultural data that authorities plan to use to combat food insecurities.
A monitoring screen shows the preparation of the launch of Kenya's first operational 3U Earth observation satellite, the Taifa-1, at the University of Nairobi's Taifa Hall, in Nairobi, Kenya, April 14, 2023. Taifa-1 is designed and developed by SayariLabs and EnduroSat, and will be deployed onboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket to collect agricultural data that authorities plan to use to combat food insecurities. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi
Delegates attend the preparation of the launch of Kenya's first operational 3U Earth observation satellite, the Taifa-1, at the University of Nairobi's Taifa Hall, in Nairobi, Kenya April 11, 2023. Taifa-1 is designed and developed by SayariLabs and EnduroSat, and will be deployed onboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket to collect agricultural data that authorities plan to use to combat food insecurities.
Delegates attend the preparation of the launch of Kenya's first operational 3U Earth observation satellite, the Taifa-1, at the University of Nairobi's Taifa Hall, in Nairobi, Kenya April 11, 2023. Taifa-1 is designed and developed by SayariLabs and EnduroSat, and will be deployed onboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket to collect agricultural data that authorities plan to use to combat food insecurities. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi
A model of a prototype of a 3U Earth observation satellite, the Taifa-1, is displayed as delegates attend the preparation of the launch of Kenya's first operational satellite, at the University of Nairobi's Taifa Hall in Nairobi, Kenya, April 14, 2023. Taifa-1 is designed and developed by SayariLabs and EnduroSat, and will be deployed onboard SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket to collect agricultural data that authorities plan to use to combat food insecurities.
A model of a prototype of a 3U Earth observation satellite, the Taifa-1, is displayed as delegates attend the preparation of the launch of Kenya's first operational satellite, at the University of Nairobi's Taifa Hall in Nairobi, Kenya, April 14, 2023. Taifa-1 is designed and developed by SayariLabs and EnduroSat, and will be deployed onboard SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket to collect agricultural data that authorities plan to use to combat food insecurities. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya launched its first operational earth observation satellite on Saturday onboard a SpaceX rocket from the United States, a live feed from Elon Musk's rocket company showed.

The satellite, developed by nine Kenyan engineers, will collect agricultural and environmental data, including on floods, drought and wildfires, that authorities plan to use for disaster management and to combat food insecurity.

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Taifa-1 satellite, took off at about 0648 GMT without incident from Vandenberg Base in California, after three postponements due to bad weather.

"Taifa-1 separation confirmed," Space X said in its broadcast when the satellite was released about an hour and four minutes after the rocket's launch.

"We have the challenges that have been brought about by climate change, which the satellite, by virtue of being able to capture images (will be able to help monitor)", Capt. Alloyce Were, an aeronautical engineer and deputy director of Navigation and Positioning at the government-run Kenya Space Agency, told Reuters on Friday before the satellite's launch.

"We can monitor forest changes, we can monitor urbanisation changes."

The satellite was put together with the help of Bulgarian aerospace company Endurosat at a cost of 50 million Kenyan shillings ($372,000) over two years, the space agency said.

The agency says it will operate for five years and then decay over 20 years, entering the atmosphere and burning out.

The launch rocket had 50 payloads from other countries, including Turkey, under SpaceX's rideshare programme.

($1 = 134.4500 Kenyan shillings)

(Reporting by Jefferson Kahinju; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Mark Potter)

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