Eugene Awimbo is a roofer and does online jobs from his Rongai home in Kajiado County.
He started making rocket models and aeroplanes in 2009 which he would sell to kids and offices for decoration purposes.
14 years later, Awimbo still makes the rockets which he launches in schools and public spaces for purposes of learning and entertainment.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
In 2009, Awimbo had developed an interest in objects that fly, and as such, he went into making rockets and aeroplanes.
In an interview with Citizen Digital, he noted that he would make planes and rockets and sell them to kids and people in offices.
“I started in a shaky manner because what I built could fly but they were not very stylish and as time went by I got better and I started building rockets and launching them for kids in schools,” he stated.
Awimbo also highlighted the progress, noting that he started making the rockets using cardboards and simple chemical formulas.
“Over the years I got a bit more serious and I started building bigger ones and launching them for schools and the public,” he said.
He explained that he makes the simple rockets using cardboards and launches them using pressurized bottles.
“I just put some water in a two-liter bottle and add a substance that can make in a bit dense like salt or soap
“When I go to schools, I launch the pressurized bottles with water and I pump air into it, there’s a release mechanism that I pull and it goes up,” he explained.
He makes his rockets using balsa wood or aluminum steels. At the moment, Awimbo is working on a rocket that weighs 150-kilograms.
“Because it’s the first model of thin size that I’m launching, it’s going to go about 3-kilometers in about 5 seconds, and it’s supposed to come down and plunge to the ground
If it succeeds, he noted that he would take it seriously and build one that will go about 40 feet into the atmosphere.
Awimbo hopes to design rockets that launches satellite into space or venture into the general space exploration.
The rocket builder also noted that he has permission, although from the local government, to launch his rockets.
“I’ve being trying to get in touch with them to get a license for launches, as it stands now because I’m not sending something up, the local authority permission is enough for me,” he said.
Awimbo mentioned the high cost of materials as one of his major challenges which has forced him to go for basic materials.
“This project is very expensive, it’s not that I can’t use the proper materials but if you look at people who engage in high power rocketing, these are the materials they use
“However, for serious space exploration, you need optimum materials which I cannot afford now,” he stated.
The project that he is currently working on has costed him Ksh 350,000 so far and it is expected to stretch to about Ksh 3.6 million by the time it’s completed.
“Everything needs to be customized and customizing any part is not cheap… A lot of things are needed,” Eugene Awimbo added.