Nigeria to send astronaut to space

Nigeria to send astronaut to space

Nigeria says it will send an astronaut into space by 2030, as part of its drive to develop a world-class space industry.

This was announced by the country's Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, according to a report by CNN on Wednesday.

"The space program is very important. Space is a major asset that Nigeria must be involved in for the purpose of protecting national interests," Dr Onu was quoted as saying.

To this end, a Nigerian Space Agency delegation will visit partners in China this month to discuss logistics and investment for a manned space mission, which would be the first by an African nation.

Nigeria's space industry has grown steadily in the last decade.

The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has launched five satellites since 2003, with three still in orbit delivering vital services. The most recent - NigeriaSat-X -- was the first to be designed and constructed by NASRDA engineers, and more advanced models are in development.

Launching an astronaut into orbit presents a greater challenge than Nigeria's previous missions, but experts say the country can pull it off.

According to them, if Nigeria succeeds, it will inspire other countries in the continent to invest in space programmes

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