WITH the support of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) United States, Nigeria is planning to locally design and launch its own satellites by 2025.
Director General of National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Dr. Seidu Mohammed, yesterday at the national space dialogue and national media conference noted that Nigeria is located within the equatorial region and the country's geostationary orbit is more energy-efficient, making it cheaper to launch satellites from its region than launch missions originating from non-equatorial planes.
Mohammed said: "A major focus of this year's space dialogue is the discussion on the benefits of launch capability in Nigeria. A major consensus is that Nigeria is located within the equatorial region and remains the leading space agency within the African region. Our location in the equatorial region has naturally endowed us with certain space resources peculiar to the region.
"The agency is strongly planning towards the development of launch capability in Nigeria. We hope to be able to launch our own locally designed satellite from our centre here by 2025. We are already building a centre where all the technical materials needed would be developed, but that is being hampered by shortfall in funding."
According to him, 2011 has been a very progressive year for the agency, culminating in the successful launch of two earth observation satellites, NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X.
"This stride has placed Nigeria among the countries in the world with high resolution satellite capability. In addition, the agency is strategising to provide space-based geo-information services to Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in line with the directive of Mr. President," he said.
The NASRDA boss said its plans had been acknowledged by colleagues from NASA, ESA, Japanese Space Agency, Chinese Space Community, and members of the disaster monitoring constellation. NASRDA, according to Mohammed, is planning to double the capacity of providing telecommunication services by commencing the development of two additional communication satellites in the next two years.
To address the funding gap and maximise the benefit of science and technology towards national development, a senate panel has called for the setting aside of one per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for science and technology.
Chairman Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Prof. Robert Ajayi Boroffice, said: "We want to use science and technology to drive the economy. To do that, I recommend that one per cent of the country's GDP is set aside. Countries in Europe and the United States set aside between 2.4 and 2.8 per cent of their GDP for science and technology."
President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Chief Alade Ajibola, said Nigeria could successfully design and launch its own satellite by 2025.
"In future, a lot is going to be done in Nigeria until one day we will be able to design and launch our own satellite. We can build and launch our own locally made satellite. We need to take advantage of what is happening today. We are at the future by training our own engineers to begin to fit into the programme. NigSatX is a unique situation, it a very good example of a Nigerian content because it was built by Nigeria engineers."
A Nigerian professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, United States, Prof. Leo Daniel, in his presentation at the conference titled "Satellite launch vehicle development and economic possibilities in Nigeria" said: "Nigeria can easily launch a satellite with a space launch vehicle because we are closer to the equator. So we can launch our vehicle very cheaply. It could be done, what we need to do is to integrate all our activities by 2025 and start to think we can be able to build a typical launch vehicle.
NASRDA has set a new date for the launch of the Nigeria communication satellite (NigcomSat-1) that was de-orbited on November 11, 2008. The replacement satellite called NigComSat-1R will now be launched on December 19, 2011 in China. Mohammed said the satellite has been enhanced to better serve Nigeria and the entire Africa continent at no extra cost.
Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Ita Okon, said: "As a nation endowed with enormous human and material resources, which must be harnessed with all the urgency therein, there is no better time than now for all of us to come together as partners in progress with the aim of articulating and charting a new course, which is capable of translating our collective wishes, dreams and aspirations into reality through the instrumentality of science and technolog
Nigeria plans design, launch of own satellites