The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) is the national space agency of Nigeria. It is a parastatal under Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. The agency is based in the Nigerian capital city of Abuja in the Lugbe district and has a ground receiving station, among various other sites. It has had cooperation in space technology with the United Kingdom, China, Ukraine and Russia. The agency has struggled with meeting its financial plans and some of its facilities are rundown. Despite this, the space agency is one of the most advanced space agencies in Africa, boasting of four satellites and very grand ambitions. Nigeria's satellites have been praised for their high-resolution images.
|Formed||May 5, 1999|
|Jurisdiction||Federal Government of Nigeria|
|Headquarters||Garki, Abuja, Nigeria|
|Administrator||Dr Halilu Shaba Ahmad Director-General|
|Annual budget||US$ 10.18 million (2020)|
NASRDA was established on May 5, 1999 after a preparation period since in 1998 by Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo and the Nigerian government with a primary objective of establishing a "fundamental policy for the development of space science and technology" with an initial budget of $93 million.
The organisation faced a media splash in 2016 once it was announced that Nigeria would send an astronaut to space by 2030. This caused many reactions across the internet, including from many experts on the African space industry. Many Nigerians believed that this was a waste of money.
The initial scope of the Nigerian Space Programme (NSP) to be implemented by the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) should include:
The study of basic space science in order to lay the foundation for deriving maximum benefits from the nation's participation in the space enterprise; For the attainment of space capabilities, Nigeria's efforts should focus on research and rigorous education, engineering development, design and manufacture, particularly in the areas of instrumentation, rocketry and small satellites as well as in satellite data acquisition, processing, analysis and management of related software; The establishment of a national earth observation station for remote sensing and satellite meteorology data acquisition. The provision of efficient, reliable and adequate telecommunications services in Nigeria in order to enhance the growth of the industrial, commercial and administrative sectors of the economy. The focus areas of the Nigerian Space Programme (NSP) include:
Basic Space Science and Technology to provide the understanding of how the universe works and what its impact is on the world. This will enable us to lay the foundation for deriving maximum benefits from the nation's participation in the space enterprise.
Remote Sensing to help Nigerians understand and manage our environment and natural resources using space-acquired information. This technology will enable us to better understand our land, air and water resources and their associated problems.
Satellite Meteorology to study atmospheric and weather sciences using satellite data to facilitate the effective management of our environment.
Communication and Information Technology to provide efficient and reliable telecommunications services for Nigeria in order to enhance the growth of the industrial, commercial and administrative sectors of the economy.
Defence and Security to help the Federal Government shall develop a necessary Space Science Technology (SST) programme that will address the national needs of Nigeria. For this purpose the government shall establish a Defence Space Command in the Ministry of Defence. The Command shall comprise representatives of the defence, intelligence, security and law enforcement services and report through the Ministry of Defence.
Five satellites have been launched by the Nigerian government into outer space. Early plans to launch a national satellite in 1976 were not executed. The NigeriaSat-1 was the first Nigerian satellite and built by a United Kingdom-based satellite technology company, Surrey Space Technology Limited (SSTL ltd) under the Nigerian government sponsorship for $30 million. The satellite was launched by Kosmos-3M rocket from Russian Plesetsk spaceport on 27 September 2003. NigeriaSat-1 was part of the worldwide Disaster Monitoring Constellation System. The primary objectives of the Nigeriasat-1 were: to give early warning signals of environmental disaster; to help detect and control desertification in the northern part of Nigeria; to assist in demographic planning; to establish the relationship between vectors and the environment that breeds malaria and to give early warning signals on future outbreaks of meningitis using remote sensing technology; to provide the technology needed to bring education to all parts of the country through distant learning; and to aid in conflict resolution and border disputes by mapping out state and International borders.
NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X, Nigeria's third and fourth satellites, were built as a high-resolution earth satellite by SSTL for DMC system also. It has 2.5-metre resolution panchromatic (very high resolution), 5-metre multispectral (high resolution, NIR red, green and red bands), and 32-metre multispectral (medium resolution, NIR red, green and red bands) antennas. This satellite was launched into orbit by the Ukrainian Dnepr rocket from a Yasny military base in Russia on 17 August 2011.
NigComSat-1, a Nigerian satellite ordered and built in China in 2004, was Nigeria's second satellite and Africa's first communication satellite. It was launched on 13 May 2007, aboard a Chinese Long March 3B carrier rocket, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China. The spacecraft was operated by NigComSat a company under the Nigerian Space Agency, NASRDA. On 11 November 2008, NigComSat-1 failed in orbit after running out of power due to an anomaly in its solar array. It was based on the Chinese DFH-4 satellite bus, and carries a variety of transponders: 4 C band; 14 Ku band; 8 Ka band; and 2 L band. It was designed to provide coverage to many parts of Africa, and the Ka band transponders would also cover Italy.
On 10 November 2008 (0900 GMT), the satellite was reportedly switched off for analysis and to avoid a possible collision with other satellites. According to Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, it was put into "emergency mode operation in order to effect mitigation and repairs". The satellite eventually failed after losing power on 11 November 2008.
On 24 March 2009, the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, NigComSat Ltd. and CGWIC signed a further contract for the in-orbit delivery of the NigComSat-1R satellite. NigComSat-1R was also a DFH-4 satellite, and is expected to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2011 as a replacement for the failed NigComSat-1.
On 19 December 2011, a new Nigerian communications satellite was launched into orbit by China in Xichang. The satellite according to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan which was paid for by the insurance policy on NigComSat-1 which de-orbited in 2009, would have a positive impact on national development in various sectors such as communications, internet services, health, agriculture, environmental protection and national security.
NigComSat-2 and NigComSat-3 - more communications satellites to extend Nigerian Communication Satellite limited capacity, planning to launch in 2012 and 2013. As of 2021, they have not been launched.
NigeriaSAT-1 - dual-aimed military/civil Earth monitoring satellite with synthetic aperture radar, planning to launch in 2015. As of 2021, they have not been launched.
Edusat-2 is a satellite planned to be launched in June or July 2021. It plans to be the first indigenous satellite developed by NASRDA engineers. It hopes to be launched from the International Space Station. It is expected to cost about ₦20,000,000.
Robert Ajayi Boroffice announced at a public lecture on space technology development that Nigeria will be able to build indigenous satellites in the country without foreign assistance by 2018.  As of 2021, all of Nigeria's 4 satellites have used foreign assistance.
Robert Ajayi Boroffice told the press that Nigeria will take advantage of its geographic location to launch into near-equatorial orbit by an indigenous developed space launcher from a national spaceport to be built around 2025–2028. It may also include collaboration with Ukraine.
The first Nigerian astronaut is currently expected to launch aboard a foreign spacecraft during sometime between 2015 and 2030. Negotiations with Russia were held in the 2000s on possibly using Russian rockets to launch the astronauts. However, Nigeria has shifted to China, being the most likely country to ever launch Nigerian astronauts.
Nigeria planned to train astronauts by 2015 and launch them into orbit by 2030. However, none of these projects have commenced.
When it was announced by Ogbonnaya Onu in 2016 that Nigeria was going to send an astronaut by 2030, it was met with criticism. Not only that there was a scam email circulating of a Nigerian astronaut lost in space, but many space experts do not think it is what Nigeria needs. The former Director-General S. O. Mohammed said: "We are not part of the race for the moon, we're not part the race for Mars".