Will Nigeria Beat South Africa In The Race To Space?


Nigeria wants to launch the first-ever manned mission into outer space by an African country as early as 2030, the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology said.

To get there, Nigeria’s National Space Research and Development Agency plans to collaborate with China, according to Felix Ale, head of communications at NASRDA, Inquisitr reported.

“We contribute to various sectors that benefit the nation,” Ale said. “The focus of our space program is on the socio-economic development of the country. The best way to fast-track development in any part of the world today is through the application of space science and technology.”

Several African countries have their sights set on space and want to tap in and harness the potential of space technology. Nigeria has already launched five satellites since 2003 — some still useful and in orbit.

Ghana and Kenya launched space exploration initiatives in 2012. South Africa is spearheading space technology.

Three hours from Cape Town in the arid Karoo, 455 square miles of farmland have been earmarked to become home to part of the Square Kilometer Array project, a $2 billion radio telescope said to be the world’s largest.





South Africa and Australia were jointly chosen to host the SKA project, according to a report in Africa Good News. The telescope is 50 times more sensitive than any equipment so far and will seek answers to the origins of the universe, according to an earlier AFKInsider report.

The Square Kilometer Array should be fully functional by 2024. A test telescope has already been built to try out the technology. The Karoo Array Telescope 7 is a working instrument.

The KAT-7 telescope uncovered the secrets of a binary star system, according to Africa Good News. The star system was observed firing energetic matter from its core into the surrounding system in extensive, compact jets that flared brightly, details of which are visible only in radio waves, the report said.





Kenyan space expert Calestous Juma, Harvard Kennedy School professor, is considered one of the most influential African authorities on the subject. Nigeria’s ambitions to enhance the scope of science, innovation, and space engineering could have far-reaching benefits for the country’s economy, he said, according to Inquistr.

“Scientific, technological and engineering capabilities would have direct economic benefits to Nigeria long before the decision of putting a person in space is made,” Juma said. “Space walks are probably the least important. It is the scientific and technological infrastructure and its linkages to the rest of the economy that matters.”

Citizens of 40 countries have ventured into space since the first-ever manned space-flight, commanded by Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, made history in April 1961. Since then, only three countries — former Soviet Union, the U.S., and China, have successfully launched their own manned space missions. The Soviet Union and U.S. integrated many astronauts from other countries into their space programs, according to Inquistr.

More than 1,000 satellites are in orbit, nearly half of them from the U.S. Many are in low-earth orbit, a few hundred kilometers above the earth. Some of the better known satellites include the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Source: AFK Insider


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