The Honourable Minister of science and Technology, Prof. Ita Ewa, while briefing the nation on his ministry’s activities on Monday at the ministerial press conference in Abuja, stated that plans were afoot to ensure that the training of local astronauts begin by 2015 all things being equal.
He added that a memo requesting the President Goodluck Jonathan’s approval for the programme had been submitted. The training would be done in collaboration with the Chinese government who will also assist the country in developing a space rocket.
It should the noted that space technology has been a developing ambition of successive governments in Nigeria leading to the establishment of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NARSDA).
The Minister further stated that a launch site with a 20-kilometre launch capability had already been set up in Epe, Lagos State, adding that 12 engineers from the National Space Research and Development Agency (NARSDA) are in China for training.
While expounding on the benefits of an improved programme to the country, Prof. Ewa stated that the Nigeria would begin making preparations for the launch of two or more communication satellites after Mr. President’s approval.
According to him, the socio-economic benefits of such deployment of satellites include; security surveillance, flood management, environmental surveillance for pest and diseases infested areas, desertification and pollution, especially oil spillage in the Niger Delta.