Marsabit County has been identified as the most suitable county in Kenya to set up a spaceport. Other counties considered included Laikipia, Kilifi, Tana River, Isiolo, Turkana and Narok.
The recommendation was made by a Viwanda Africa report, in collaboration with Longshot Space Technology and student engineering researchers from Kenyatta and Nairobi universities. The report examined the viability of establishing a Spaceport in Kenya.
The Kenya Spaceport Research carried out an assessment among all the 47 counties where Marsabit County emerged as the most favorable location to set up a Space Port. This is due to its large tracts of unoccupied, affordable land, sparse population density, low trafficked airspace, generally flat terrain and proximity to the LAPPSET corridor.
The research drew data from various national and global organizations and sourced guidance from the Kenya Space Agency (KSA).
The report further estimated the initial stage of the spaceport construction to cost Ksh. 5 billion, Ksh. 7 billion annual operational costs and revenue of Ksh. 1 billion per launch. This is with an estimate of 5 launches within the first year of construction and an exponential rise to 60 launches by the 10th year of operation
Research was conducted on the physical, economic, environmental, social, political and cultural factors that would be considered for the establishment of a spaceport. However, there may be a need to construct additional supporting infrastructure such as roads, boreholes and solar farms, the report indicated.
Speaking while receiving the report, Kenya Space Agency Director General Col. Hilary B. Kipkosgey said, “The development of highly innovative industries such as this provides current and future employment opportunities in many sectors, and the potential for growth in supporting industries. Development of such a spaceport would also foster research, innovation and growth of knowledge within this country, rippling out to Kenya taking the lead globally as a significant player in the space sector.”
Viwanda Africa CEO Nyambura Kamau noted the interest to carry out the survey in Kenya originated from the geographic advantages the country sits on as a potential launch site. According to Nyambura, this is an interest shared by the US based space start-up company Long Shot.