Prof. Ita Ewa, Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology said on Thursday that Nigeria would launch three satellites and send astronauts to space by 2015.
Ewa stated this in Abuja at the ongoing ministerial briefing to commemorate 2012 Democracy Day and anniversary of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. He said the move was part of government efforts to boost the economy through space technology.
The minister enumerated the country’s space programme from now to 2028 when it expects to launch a made-in-Nigeria satellite into space. “In 2015 we are preparing to launch NigeriaSAR-1 satellite. The NigeriaSAR is a security satellite with an acronym that stands for Synthetic Aperture Radar.
“This satellite will have a very high resolution that can cover kilometres, and for a backup of the communication satellite there will be NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-3.
“Also because of the experience we gained in Surrey, UK, we are going to build an Assembly Integration and Testing Centre for satellite technology, it is ongoing but this year we will put in more efforts to that technology.
“And before I leave office in 2015 we will send Nigerian Astronaut into space ”
He said by 2018 Nigeria would launch a manufactured satellite and in 2025 develop rocket and propulsion system. “In 2026 we have allies in electronics and software involved in space technology, and in 2028 we would now launch a Nigeria made satellite.”
Ewa enumerated the achievements of the ministry to include the launch of two low earth observation satellites – NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X as well as a communication satellite-NigComSat-1R. He also said a rocketry was successfully launched on Wednesday in Epe, Lagos, while about 40 doctors and 60 masters degree holders had been trained in space technologies.
“100 personnel from the military who have been trained in space applications this year are now ready to be involved in surveillance satellite project.” Ewa said the ministry had conducted several biotechnology researches and developed products to boost food production.
On bio-safety, he said the ministry was awaiting the assent by the President to the Bio-safety Bill earlier passed by the National Assembly. Some of the ministry’s achievements in biotechnology according to him, include the development of baseline data generation for tsetse fly, human and animal trypanosomiasis control and eradication in Jigawa.
Others are pilot production for malaria Hepatitis B and pregnancy test kits, and development of thermophilic anaerobic bio-digester for the management of bio-degradable waste and production of organic fertiliser.
He also mentioned capacity building for commercial production of snails and freshwater fish, design and construction of mushroom houses at Obasanjo Farms, Ota, and domestication of grass cutters among others.
The minister disclosed that arrangement was ongoing on secure funding for the implementation of National Science and Technology Policy (NSTI).
Ewa said the policy would focus on the promotion and coordination of scientific and technological researches in the country. The minister urged Nigerians to take advantage of available satellite resources and other products developed for full commercialisation.