As part of the country’s ongoing plan to become a world-class space power, the federal government has announced plans to launch an astronaut into space before 2030.
The latest development places the country right in the midst of human space exploration, something only very few countries in the world have managed to accomplish.
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who made the announcement said that “The space program is very important.”
Onu, in his speech further added that “Space is a major asset that Nigeria must be involved in for the purpose of protecting national interests.
Head of the Centre for Satellite Technology Development, Dr. Spenser Onuh, in a statement, said that launching an astronaut into orbit represents a greater challenge than Nigeria’s previous missions.
While expressing optimism over the mission, Onuh said: “To train an astronaut from selection to flight takes about eight years.
“2030 is realistic in my opinion…Responses from the international collaborators are very supportive and encouraging.”
Nigeria launched its space agency NASRDA (National Space Research and Development Agency) in 2001. It then launched its first satellite, Nigeriasat-1, in 2003, a second satellite one in 2007, and another pair in 2011.
Three of these satellites are still in orbit — including the most recent, NigeriaSat-X, which was designed and manufactured entirely by NASRDA scientists and engineers.
The country plans to work with partners in China, who have been heavily involved with the development and launch of several other Nigerian satellites in the past decade.