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 Kenyan-born aeronautical engineer based in the US, Samuel Ndaro, is now treading on air as 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 the job and worked as a top engineer on the project, which he terms 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 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.

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