Nigeria announce plan for first human space flight
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Nigeria’s Minister of Innovation, Science, and Technology (FMIST), Chief Uche Nnaji, has unveiled the country’s plan to undertake its first human space flight, a landmark event for the African continent. The announcement was made during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) and the Space Exploration and Research Agency (SERA) in Abuja.

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Chief Nnaji described the event as momentous and timely, aligning perfectly with the 25th anniversary of NASRDA. He emphasized that human space flight is a key objective of Nigeria’s Space Program, which was initially scheduled for 2018, putting the country six years behind schedule. However, with the new partnership with SERA, the delay is expected to be rectified, supporting President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

Minister highlights importance of private sector involvement 

The Minister congratulated the Director General of NASRDA and his team, praising their efforts as a strong start to his tenure and a testament to the President’s strategic appointments. He also acknowledged Dr. Ann Agi from the Learn Space Foundation for her crucial role in facilitating the collaboration, highlighting the importance of private sector involvement in achieving national aspirations and enhancing Nigeria’s international reputation.

Mrs. Esuabana Asanye, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, recounted the historical meeting between former U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Nigerian Head of State Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, where they discussed sending the first American and Nigerian to space. Although both leaders were assassinated before realizing this dream, the U.S. succeeded in 1969, while Nigeria is now set to fulfill this vision.

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Dr. Matthew Adepoju, Director General of NASRDA, expressed his gratitude to Chief Nnaji for his support, affirming that NASRDA is the premier space agency in Africa. He underscored the significance of the collaboration with SERA, which aims to democratize space exploration and make space accessible to all nations. Dr. Adepoju assured that NASRDA will work diligently to achieve the goal of putting the first Nigerian and Africans in space.

Program is part of broader mission to enable astronauts from six nations make space debut

Sam Hutchinson, Co-founder of SERA, explained that the Human Space Flight Program with NASRDA is part of a broader mission to enable astronauts from six different nations to make their space debut. He noted that Nigeria was chosen for its strong interest in space exploration and its vibrant community of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. The selection of the Nigerian astronaut will be made through an open democratic process managed by SERA.

Joshua Skurla, another Co-founder of SERA, called the event a milestone for Africa, committing his team to ensuring the success of Nigeria’s space mission. Victor Hespenia, the first SERA astronaut, highlighted the inspirational potential of space travel for young Nigerians, emphasizing the importance of STEM education for the country’s future in space.

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The partnership acknowledges Nigeria’s achievements in space science and technology, with the human space flight being offered at no cost to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

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