Valuing the African Genius

Jean-Patrice Keka is a scientist from Congo-Kinshasa and a graduate from ISTA (Institut Supérieur des Techniques Appliquées) who has designed, manufactured and launched a series of rockets.

In 2005, he started working on a rocket project called “Troposphere” which aimed at launching five experimental rockets. With his team, the scientist designed and manufactured a control center equipped with an automatic power system, a telemetry system (speed and altitude controlled via GPS), a video monitoring system (to control the rocket’s trajectory), a rocket launching pad, etc. Everything, including the rockets, was made with recycled materials or scrap.

Of the 5 experimental rockets, only two (Troposphere II and Troposphere IV) were successfully launched.

Jean-Patrice Keka

Profile reviewed: December 30, 2016

First publication: November 2009

Troposphere II was launched on July 10, 2007 and reached 1,014 m in 35 seconds. As for Troposphere IV, it was launched on July 10, 2008, and reached 1,548 m in 47 seconds at Mach 2.7 (2.7 times the speed of sound). It had a diameter of 16 cm, a weight of 200 kg and a thrust of 1 ton.

Troposphere V, the biggest of all rockets, was launched on March 28, 2008. It 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 (1 min 35 s) at Mach 3 (3 times the speed of sound). However, the launch was unsuccessful as the rocket did not take off vertically and crashed.

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