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FG begins plans on Nigerian visit to space

The Federal Government has concluded plans to send a citizen of the country to space, in order to boost ongoing research on the planet and others.

It disclosed the plan after signing a Memorandum Of Understanding (MoU) with the United State agency, Space Exploration and Research Agency (SERA).

The Director General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Mathew Adepoju, made the disclosure during a press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday.

“This collaboration, which is coming to the country, marks a significant milestone in Nigeria’s 25th anniversary of Space Exploration journey and opens new opportunities for scientific research and technological advancement,” Adepoju said.

The signing ceremony was supervised by the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Technology, Chief Uche Nnaji, underscoring the importance of this partnership for Nigeria’s burgeoning space program.

In his address, the Minister highlighted the transformative potential of this partnership, stressing that it is a testament to Nigeria’s commitment to advancing its capabilities in space exploration.

According to him, the public-private partnership with SERA will not only accelerate the nation’s technological advancements but also inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers.

While asserting that this move is in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Mr Nnaji noted that this is a significant step forward in Nigeria’s ambition to become a key player in global space exploration.

He buttressed that the agreement will foster cooperation in various aspects of space technology, research, and development, even as both NASRDA and SERA will work together on mission planning, astronaut training, and the creation of infrastructure necessary for sustained human presence in space.

Nigeria has been actively pursuing space exploration since 1999, when it established NASRDA, and has since launched several satellites into orbit, the most recent being the NigeriaSat-X in 2011.

NASRDA was established on May 5, 1999, after a preparation period since 1998 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Nigerian government, with a primary objective of establishing a “fundamental policy for the development of space science and technology” with an initial budget of $93 million.

In May 2006, the new extended national space programme was adopted.NASRDA has launched four satellites of its own, the first one in 2003 and the last one in 2009.

Nigeria’s first satellite, NigeriaSat-1, was launched on September 27, 2003, and on August 17, 2011, a replacement, NigeriaSat-2, the most powerful imaging spacecraft ever sent into orbit, was launched. An equivalent satellite, NigeriaSat-X, was co-launched with NigeriaSat-2 at the Yasny military base in Russia.

On May 13, 2007, the country’s and Africa’s first communications satellite, NigComsat-1, was launched at an overall cost of USD 300 million. It deorbited on November 11, 2008, and a replacement, NigComsat-1R, was launched on December 19, 2011.

The cost of both satellites was USD 48.4 million, including launch and insurance. NigeriaSat-1 cost the country USD 13 million. Both NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X have a design life of seven years.

In 2014, six years after it had outlived its design life, NigeriaSat-1 was decommissioned by engineers and scientists of the National Space Research and Development Agency, NASRDA, and burned up in a controlled reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

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