Jean-Patrice Keka

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Jean-Patrice Keka Ohemba Okese is a Congolese scientist (Congo-Kinshasa) who has designed and launched a series of rockets made with recycled materials. This scientist studied at the Institut Sup?rieur des Techniques Appliques (ISTA) in Kinshasa.

In 2005 DTA (Developpement Tous Azimuts), the company he manages, designs a space exploration program called "Troposphere" that aimed at launching five experimental rockets that should not to exceed an altitude of 36,152 m. After acquiring a plot on the Menkao site, DTA designed a control center equipped, among others, with an automatic powering device, a telemetry system (speed and altitude via GPS), a video monitoring system to control the rocket trajectory and a rocket launching pad. The rockets are manufactured with scrap.

Troposphere I, the first rocket, has never been launched in April 2007 due to technical reasons. Troposphere II was successfully launched on July 10, 2007 and reached 1,014 m in 35 seconds. It had a mass of 15.465 kg and a diameter of 5 cm. Troposphere III should have been launched on October 12, 2007. Troposphere IV was successfully launched on July 10, 2008 or one year date to date after Troposphere II. The rocket reached 1,548 m in 47 seconds at Mach 2.7 supersonic speed (2.7 times the speed of sound). It had a diameter of 16 cm, a weight of 200 kg and a thrust of one ton.

Troposphere V, the last rocket of a series of 5, was launched on March 28, 2008. The rocket was 5 m long with a total mass of 750 kg and was supposed to reach an altitude of 36,000 m (36 km) in 95 seconds (1min 35s) at Mach 3 (3 times the speed of sound). Troposphere V consisted of two floors. Floor I had a thrust of 7,000 kgf while floor II had a thrust of 1,000 kgf. The diameter of floors I and II was 48 cm and 16 cm respectively. The combustion time was planned to be about 6 seconds per floor. Troposphere V's total manufacturing cost is estimated at about $50,000 (about 25 million CFA francs). However, the launch was not a success as the rocket did not take off vertically and crashed.

Despite the failure of the last and largest of the rockets, the lesson to be drawn is that a team of Congolese scientists began working on a space program with very limited funds. Even NASA experienced failures while trying to conquer space and the moon.

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