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Nigeria to send its first human to space; partners Blue Origin

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Nigeria’s National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has signed a groundbreaking deal to send the country’s first-ever citizen into space. The space exploration is planned to be done aboard a Blue Origin rocket.

The momentous partnership with the global Space Exploration & Research Agency (SERA) reserves a coveted seat on an upcoming Blue Origin New Shepard suborbital spaceflight for a Nigerian astronaut trailblazer.

It marks a soaring milestone in Nigeria’s decades-long journey pursuing human spaceflight and embracing the final frontier, over 20 years after approving its National Space Policy.

Human spaceflight is not just a random aspiration, but a core objective of Nigeria’s space program approved in 2001,” declared Uche Godfrey Nnaji, Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology. “This partnership provides a way to achieve our nation’s long-held aspiration.”

The privately-funded SERA mission aligns with President Bola Tinubu’s “Renewed Hope” agenda to revive abandoned national plans. It marks Nigeria’s role in SERA’s broader initiative with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to send six astronauts from underrepresented nations to space.

“Space has been an exclusive domain with over 80% of all astronauts coming from just three countries,” said SERA co-founder Joshua Skurla. “We’re honored to partner with NASRDA to extend Nigeria’s rich innovation legacy into the final frontier.”

Read also: Polish drone maker to establish African manufacturing hub in Kenya

For Dr. Matthew Adepoju, NASRDA’s director general, the deal “is a testament to Nigeria’s growing prominence in the global space community” toward realizing its goal of launching a human into space by 2030.

The move builds on Nigeria’s prior achievements including six satellites launched since NigeriaSat-1 in 2003. However, sending its inaugural astronaut will inspire Nigerian youth like never before.

This mission serves as a beacon of hope showing that with global collaboration, great achievements are possible even in challenging times,” stated Dr. Anne Agi of the Learnspace Foundation, which advocated for Nigeria’s selection.

As the New Shepard rocket readies for liftoff with a Nigerian aboard, the nation’s space dreams are finally leaving the launchpad toward the stars.

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