Congolese rocket enthusiast plans to send rat into space

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Mr. Keka, 45, shows the Ovaltine-can capsule in which he meant to launch a rat 23 miles up in a rocket named Troposphere V that instead crashed into a mountain. Photo: Drew Hinshaw/ Wall Street Journal
Despite previous unsuccessful missions and lack of financial support from the government and other potential sponsors, Jean-Patrice Keka plans to send a rat, a few mosquitos into space next year

A Congolese man with an uncanny passion and mission, Jean-Patrice Keka, who is Congo’s “best-known rocket expert,” has been launching homemade space rockets from yam farm fields for the past 10 years.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Keka has been tirelessly working on a mission: to “Put a rat in space”.

Although the rocketeer is yet to taste success, he is neither perturbed nor discouraged. The Wall Street Journal, says, none of the five rockets created by Keka have reached space from his launch zone, which he built with his own money, a two hour drive from Kinshasa.

Jean-Patrice Keka has launched a series of rockets from this rural Congo site amid yam farms over the past 10 years Photo: Drew Hinshaw/ Wall Street Journal
Jean-Patrice Keka has launched a series of rockets from this rural Congo site amid yam farms over the past 10 years Photo: Drew Hinshaw/ Wall Street Journal

Despite the previous unsuccessful missions and lack of financial support from the government and other potential sponsors, Keka is onto his next mission. The Congolese government is reportedly behind Keka’s  mission of sending a rat into space (offering him non-financial support).

The mission is set for 2016 and onboard the Troposphere VI, nicknamed Soso Pembe or “white rooster,”  are “A few mosquitoes, a few flies,” and another rat, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“I will do my utmost to bring that rat back alive,” “But if not, there’s a lot of rats in Kinshasa,” the self-taught rocket scientist and ballistics degree holder Keka said.

Source: Wall Street Journal and thisisafrica.me

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