BY EMMANUEL ELEBEKE
ABUJA—The National Space Research and Development Agency, NASRDA, yesterday, said it will produce the first Nigerian astronaut in 2015.
Director General of the agency, Dr. Seidu Mohammed who disclosed this at the 2013 national space dialogue and media conference, said the plan was part of the agency’s 25 years roadmap for space and technology development in Nigeria.
According to him, the agency plans to have a Nigerian who can go to the space and conduct research, which was needed for peculiar reasons, like agro-based development, health, disaster, weather monitoring and some other issues that are peculiar to Nigeria, such as sickle cell disease.
He said, “the possibility of this has been demonstrated by a lot of research done in the past and we have decided that by 2015, a Nigerian can go to the space and conduct research at the highest level”.
The NASRDA boss also said the agency had already commenced research on how to forestall the imminent flood disaster expected to hit the country later in the year.
This according to him, was in continuation of NASRDA’s effort to tackle the devastating effects of the 2012 flood disaster that claimed over 3,000 lives.
The DG said the agency would partner with the National Emergency Management, NEMA, so that people living in the affected areas can begin to move out to avert a repeat of the flood last year.
Also as part of the agency’s plan to advance the development of space technology in the country, Dr. Mohammed said NASRDA plans to begin planning and designing of Satellites in Nigeria by 2020 and by 2025, will begin the commercialization and conversion of locally produced technologies , that will prepare them for a wider acceptability in Nigeria and beyond.
This he said would include: software and hardware production that can fully be utilized by Nigerians.
The minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Bassey Okon Ewa, while delivering his Keynote address at the occasion said that space technology reflects the comprehensive power of a nation which had proved to be the driving force behind the economies and securities of countries like USA, China, Russia and Britain.
The minister while emphasizing the importance of space technology, said that Nigeria had been pursuing the attainment of capacities in the sector as an essential tool for a sustainable growth, through research, engineering development and satellite data acquisition among others.
While tasking the local engineers and scientists to leverage the opportunity offered by space technology, the minister blamed the poor acceptance of the technology in Nigeria on low awareness and called on all stakeholders to give in their support.