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HomeWealthWanjiku Chebet: Kenya’s First Scientist-Astronaut To Graduate From Advanced PoSSUM Space Academy

Wanjiku Chebet: Kenya’s First Scientist-Astronaut To Graduate From Advanced PoSSUM Space Academy

Wanjiku Chebet Kanjumba is the first Kenyan-born graduate of Project PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidate Program.

Based in the US, she has specialized on astronautical engineering, spaceflight operations, dynamics and control.

She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Aerospace Engineering from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

Here is her story as told by WoK.

Background

Chebet notes that she developed an interest in aerospace while a little kid as she enjoyed learning how the world works.

Overtime, she opted to pursue aerospace engineering after completion of her primary and secondary school education in order to achieve her mission.

“I read space books, learnt the history of space exploration during the Cold War and watched space documentaries. I even had a telescope to observe the stars and planets in the night sky,” Chebet said.

Chebet has worked as airworthiness engineer, aerospace certification engineer, aerospace controls engineer and maintenance and aircraft performance engineer.

She has two siblings; one who is a general surgeon and another who is pursuing aeronautical engineering.

“We all have our different passions and thankfully have the opportunity to pursue them,” she added.

On her big breakthrough in aerospace engineering, Chebet noted that it was when she worked in the engineering department of a top US airlines.

She has also gotten a chance to work in the flight operations department for a commercial drone company.

“Both opportunities provided great experiences, as well as inspiration for when I founded my own company,” Chebet said.

It was during this time when she went through the Advanced PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidacy course making her the only Kenyan to graduate from the program.

Chebet is also actively involved in encouraging girls, especially those in slums and less privileged to pursue fields in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“I host one on one talks with them to try and understand their goals and how they want to contribute to the world in a positive way

“One of the most notable talks I’ve had was with children living in slums and who were encouraged to pursue sciences in their school,” she stated.

Chebet noted that she is yet to go to the space, however, noting that she is looking forward to it.

“I want to one day. Being able to experience microgravity through an extended period of time would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she added.

Currently, she is working on a tele-medicine drone platform for a smart city in Africa.

“…will service the entire region by connecting local clinics to main hospitals. It will allow rural residents access to medical assistance remotely,” Chebet stated.