Kenyan-born aeronautical engineer based in the US, Samuel Ndaro, is now treading on air as being part of the team behind the making of Artemis I, the spacecraft which is meant to be the first to go to Mars.
Artemis I, which is to be used in the test mission, will be launched without any crew inside and is set to orbit the moon for about forty days. It is also expected to deploy cube satellites to be used in research.
The launch, which has now been rescheduled to Monday or Tuesday, was called off on Saturday because of technical reasons. It was the second call off as the first one was on Monday last week.
The 39-year old led the MH-139 Services Programme at Boeing Global Services, a team from the US-based multinational aerospace company Boeing, where he has worked since 2013.
The team was one of many where Boeing staff were involved in the project at a Nasa facility in New Orleans. His team was in charge of taking note of any engineering shortcomings that may arise in a project, documenting them and advising on how to correct them.
During an interview with the Nation, Ndaro explained how he got to the job and working as a top engineer in the project, what he terms as a dream come true.
Ndaro was born and raised in Mombasa until 2002 when he left for the US after sitting his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations.
Upon his arrival, he studied Aerospace Engineering at the Wichita State University and later interned at aircraft maker Bombardier.
He later served in the army for four years as a helicopter engine repairer then left to join Boeing where he has been till today.
Ndaro says he had to go through a certification process to be qualified to be a material review board engineer. He also explained the weight of the task he was undertaking in building the inter-tank, saying it was a challenging since the parts and materials going into the build were scarce.
“While we were trying to put this rocket together, sometimes we had discrepancies or faults happening in production — maybe while drilling a hole, you’re supposed to make a quarter-inch one but you oversize it beyond the specifications,” he said.
He however remained confident that the rocket will launch successfully and that he will be honored to be part of a team that worked on putting man on the moon.
“It gives me chills right now just thinking about this thing going up. I just want it to be successful, to have a good flight and then I’ll sit there and be like ‘I did my part in terms of this historic, monumental flight,” he said.
“Ten years down the line, everybody is going to forget about it, but we’re going to sit here and say, ‘Yeah, man. Ten years ago, we did something to make sure we have humans on Mars.’ It’s fascinating, man.”
After the Artemis I is launched, Artemis II will be the second mission which will have astronauts on board. It will fly around the moon and then return. This is scheduled to happen in 2024.
Artemis III, scheduled to happen in 2025, will then take humans back to the surface of the moon.
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