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NYOTA 1

Many young Kenyans gather somewhere along the Kenyan coast, they have a beautiful view of a secured area in a sparsely populated area owned by the military and now available for a number of commercial space launches. In the distance is a white majestic object rising from the ground and pointing into the clear blue sky. Using a pair of binoculars, the letters NYOTA 1 are neatly printed on the rocket body, and just above it the Kenyan flag.

There is some steam-like gas oozing at the bottom of the rocket, from the large LCD screens placed in a section clearly marked VIEW POINT, there seems to be some some launch activity from NYOTA's mission control. A child standing next to the screen pulls his mother's hand and shouts out “Mummy angalia, inatoa moshi mingi sasa (look, there's more smoke coming from it now)”. NYOTA's mission control are going through some kind of checklist. Suddenly, some props that seem to be supporting the bottom part of the rocket seem to no longer support it. Everything seems to go silent from the screen as a countdown starts, Kumi(ten), Tisa(nine), Nane(eight), Saba(seven), Sita(six) suddenly there's an audible hiss as thicket steams starts gather around the bottom of the rocket, the massive crows around the screens joins in the count down, Tano(Five), Nne(Four), Tatu(Three), Mbili(Two), Moja(One).

There're fever pitch screams all around, NYOTA 1's engines release a visible flare of red, yellow and blue flames surrounded by white thick cloud-like smoke. The rocket takes off lighting up the entire coastline, its now some minutes past 6PM. The Onboard cameras reveal a spectacular view of the launchpad and its surroundings and then displays an even more defined view of the coastline. The view of the liftoff is spectacular even kilometers away. The screams and cheer increase as NYOTA quickly ascends, disappearing into the evening sky. Amid the cheers a voice from the control room is heard announcing “Approaching Max Q” then “Main engine cutoff” and finally “separation”. There seems to be even more excitement from the control room now on the screens. Some university engineering students surrounded by onlookers are busy explaining the stages of launch and they draw the crowds attention to the screen where the bottom part or the “first stage” is expected to land back on a pad off the coast.

Then suddenly, more ululations as the “first stage” lands on a pad, from the screens the mission looks like a success but them everyone starts yelling my name a countdown fashion. I'm seated at my desk and my colleague is yelling out my name, “Seriously??, its not even 11AM!!” she exclaims visibly worried.

“Naah, I'm fine” I reassure her, as I lean in forward to my computer, fire up Google.com and search for “Kenya Space Program”.

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