Nigeria To Send First Civilians To Space

The Federal Government has announced a landmark decision to send its first citizen into space.

This will be achieved through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a United States firm, Space Exploration and Research Agency (SERA), on Human Space Flight programme.

Mathew Adepoju, Director General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), revealed this historic move at a press conference 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 stated.

The announcement signifies a major moment in Nigeria’s space exploration efforts, highlighting the nation’s commitment to advancing its capabilities in space science and technology.

This initiative is expected to foster new avenues for research and development, further positioning Nigeria as a key player in the global space community.

“The Human Space Flight programme is one of the cardinal objectives of our National Space Policy. To support this, we established the Department of Physical and Life Sciences three years ago,” he added.

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He also highlighted the potential benefits of the program, stating, “This initiative will bring numerous spinoffs and opportunities for Nigerians.”

Uche Nnaji, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Technology, reaffirmed the significance of human space flight as a core objective of Nigeria’s National Space Policy and Programme (NSPP).

He noted that the NSPP, approved in 2001, identified human space flight as one of its pillars, with a 25-year roadmap initiated in 2005 aiming for the first human space flight by 2018.

“We are about six years behind schedule, but the signing of the MoU signifies our commitment to achieving this goal,” Nnaji said.

The Co-founder of SERA, Sam Hutchison, also spoke at the event, emphasizing the inclusive nature of the program.

Hutchison said: “The human space flight programme gives Nigerians the opportunity to choose who they want to send to space. Anyone aged 18 and above can apply. The process will be democratic, allowing the Nigerian people to select four potential astronaut candidates before a final selection.”

According to him, the selection process would be managed by the SERA platform, aiming to open up access to ordinary Nigerians.