In a groundbreaking announcement, Chief Uche Nnaji, the Minister of the Federal Ministry of Innovation Science and Technology (FMIST), revealed that Nigeria is preparing for its inaugural human space flight.

This significant milestone marks a turning point for the African continent and showcases Nigeria’s commitment to space exploration.

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The announcement took place 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.

Chief Nnaji hailed the occasion as momentous, particularly as it coincides with NASRDA’s 25th anniversary. He described human space flight as a pivotal goal in Nigeria’s Space Programme, which was initially scheduled for 2018 but faced delays, putting Nigeria six years behind schedule.

Expressing confidence in the partnership with SERA, Chief Nnaji believes that the collaboration will rectify past setbacks and align with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

He commended NASRDA’s Director General and team, viewing the collaboration as a testament to the President’s foresight in appointing capable leadership.

Emphasizing the importance of involving the private sector, Chief Nnaji highlighted Dr Ann Agi from Learn Space Foundation for facilitating the partnership.

He sees the participation of the private sector as crucial in achieving national aspirations and enhancing Nigeria’s international reputation.

Reflecting on history, Esuabana Asanye, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, recalled discussions from the 1960s between former US President John F. Kennedy and Nigerian Head of State Alhaji Tafawa Balewa about sending American and Nigerian astronauts to space.

Unfortunately, this dream was cut short by their untimely assassinations. Asanye praised the NASRDA-SERA collaboration for resurrecting this aspiration and urged both agencies to maintain their commendable efforts as Nigeria eagerly awaits its first astronaut.

Dr Matthew Adepoju, the Director General of NASRDA, expressed gratitude to the Minister for his unwavering support. He emphasized that NASRDA holds the prestigious position of being Africa’s premier space agency.

Dr Adepoju highlighted the significance of the collaboration in initiating Nigeria’s journey towards human space flight, which aligns with the National Space Policy and Programme.

He commended SERA for their role in facilitating collaboration and acknowledged their mission to democratize space exploration globally.

Sam Hutchinson, Co-founder of SERA, outlined the Human Space Flight Programme’s broader mission to enable astronauts from nations new to space exploration.

He emphasized SERA’s commitment to democratizing space and announced that Nigeria, known for its keen interest and talent in space exploration, would select its astronaut through a democratic process overseen by SERA.

Joshua Skurla, another Co-founder of SERA, hailed the event as a significant milestone for Africa. He pledged SERA’s full commitment to sending Nigeria’s first astronaut to space. Victor Hespenia, SERA’s first astronaut, shared his belief in the transformative potential of space travel for Nigerian youth and encouraged the promotion of STEM education to nurture future space pioneers.

This partnership marks Nigeria’s remarkable achievements in space science and technology. Notably, the Human Space Flight Programme incurs no cost to the Federal Government of Nigeria, showcasing the country’s dedication and ingenuity in pursuing space exploration.