China Selects Kenya for Special Mission in Space

A collage image of President William Ruto (left) and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping (right).
A collage image of President William Ruto (left) and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping (right).

Kenya was selected among 17 countries set to join China's special space mission under the Tiangong Space Station.

Chinese Government affiliated media outlet, T-House Opinions, on Thursday, September 29, reported that the 17 countries form the first batch expected to carry out research at the space station.

Russia, China, Germany, Italy, and France were among the developed countries selected.

Other nations included Poland, Switzerland, Norway, the Netherlands, India, Belgium, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Peru.

Graphic showing countries that joined China's Tiangong Space Station.
Graphic showing countries that joined China's Tiangong Space Station.

"The first batch of 17 countries will cover a wide range of research. Tiangong is ready for the final assembly," reported the outlet.

Tiangong Space Station, popularly known as Heavenly Palace, is a station in China that wields its own power, propulsion, life support systems and living quarters.

China seeks to complete the space station, send its first persons to the moon by 2030 and have a team sent to Jupiter and Mars to collect samples.

The race between US and China continues to soar with the two countries along with the Soviets launching their own private endeavours.

China was barred from participating in the International Space Station (ISS) as US laws prevent Americans from sharing information with their Asian rivals. 

In September 2020, the US also raised alarm over the planned partnership between Kenya and China, arguing that it would put its own space expansion plans at risk.

Then National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) administrator, Jim Bridenstine, told the US Congress that the deal would further undercut Washington's relations with Kenya.

Kenya has continued fostering relations with China, one of the East African country's major infrastructure developers and creditors. 

China was wary of this relationship dwindling down upon President William Ruto's inauguration. The President, who had pledged to review Kenya's ties with the Chinese, however, allayed the fears after assuming office. 

A Satellite in Space
A Satellite in Space

"China is one of the most important national development partners for Kenya and has in the last decade extended considerable support to our infrastructure development.

"Assured China's ambassador to Kenya, Zhou Pingjian, that the new administration of President William Ruto has no plans whatsoever to scale down our collaboration with the Republic of China," National Assembly speaker, Moses Wetangula stated after meeting the Chinese envoy on September 23.