Abuja — NATIONAL Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has been commended for its effort to successfully sustain Nigeria ‘s first satellite to exceed its five years life span in the orbit.
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Alhassan Zaku who gave the commendation at the opening ceremony of the third African regional conference of the international academy of astronauts (IAA), organised by the agency in Abuja said the effort was a development in the science and technology industry.
Nigeria’s first satellite was launched into orbit on 27 September, 2003 as an earth observation satellite called the NigeriaSat-1 with a five years life span.
Zaku, who was represented at the occasion by Wahab Jimoh, a director in the ministry said, the agency being a parastatal of the ministry has provided the channel for the successful realisation of government’s aspirations and objectives.
The encouraging successes recorded from the NigeriaSat-1, the minister noted, resulted in further investment by federal government in a communication Satellite code-named as NIGCOMSAT-1 and a second earth observation satellite, Nigersat-2 that will be due for launch in 2010.
These investments, he said, demonstrate government’s com-mitment to the development of space science technology and its exploitation to hasten the socio-economic development of the nation.
“I strongly believe that Africa has not come of age, but represents the voice that will tell the story of our world tomorrow in the area of space science and technology,” the minister noted.
The minister reaffirmed federal government’s realisation on the fact that space science and technology hold the key to the social, political and economic emancipation of any nation, a priority, he added accorded the sector by the present administration.
He said, “Today, Nigeria is not only striving ahead steadily in pursuance of this noble goal and objectives, but has succeeded in placing herself on the road map of space science and technology through the achievement recorded so far.”
According to him, the ground station of the NigeriaSat-1 is completely manned by young scientists and engineers who control the space-craft and regularly schedule and download data from it.
“NigeriaSat-1 images have been used to address issues in virtually every facet of our national life. Also through the Disaster monitoring Constellation (DMC), images have been made available worldwide for the management of disasters,” he said.
Seidu Mohammed, Director General of NARSDA, identified some of the burning issues in space development to include strategies for the long-term security of space operations in a more crowded and more militarised environment, development of voluntary guidelines for space debris mitigation, discussion on possible “rules of the road” for space operations, as well as other issues such as cooperative space exploration.
Others, he cited to include analysis of long-term sustainable space activities, development of potential legally binding space rules, processes for avoiding interference or collision in space, and strategies for preventing space from becoming an area of conflict.
The DG while commending federal government for its support in the actualization of the national space policy and programmes, said, maintained that the agency remains resolute and undaunted in the quest to utilise space as a tool for socio-economic development.
He added that the agency’s modest achievement so far, and continued efforts in taking advantage of space science and technology is to improve the overall wellbeing of the Nigerian people.