The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has said that it would soon initiate the process of decommissioning Nigeria’s first satellite in orbit, NigeriaSat-1 , which has come to the end of its life span.
This disclosure was made by the Director-General of NASRDA, Mohammed Seidu, during courtesy call/facility tour by the Nigerian Association of Science Journalists (NASJ) in Abuja.
Seidu said: “The satellite, which was launched in September 2003, was built to last for not more than five years, but “as we speak, that satellite has lasted for about eight and half years and it is coming to the end of its life. It’s a successful mission; it is a mission we are very proud of and very soon we will commence the process of decommissioning.”
NigeriaSat-1 was the Nigerian contribution to the international Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) project, a novel international cooperation in space, led by SSTL to bring together organisations from seven countries: Algeria, China, Nigeria, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.
The DMC Consortium formed the first-ever microsatellite constellation aimed at bringing remarkable earth observation capabilities, both nationally - to the individual satellite owners, and internationally - to benefit world-wide humanitarian aid efforts.
During the interaction with the delegation led by the president, NASJ, Onche Odeh, the DG said that NigComSat-1 has been of immense economic benefit to Nigeria.
He said: “The NigComSat-1, during its time, was used to get satellite mapping of Nigeria, mapping for the new railway project and used to produce the first satellite atlas in Africa.”
The NASRDA helmsman said that NigeriaSat-1 was launched to continue the data collection which was previously being carried out by NigeriaSat-1 .
“The country’s second earth observation satellite, NigeriaSat-2 , which was launched in August 2011, has completed in-orbit testing and is now set for commercial activities. NigeriaSat-2 will continue the work which NigeriaSat-1 was doing, but is more advanced in technology.
“NigeriaSat-2 is a higher resolution satellite, It also has 32m camera on board to ensure data continuity. It is a more advanced space craft. Whatever Nigeria sat-2 is doing in the orbit now is to carry out earth resolution that Nigeriasat-1 has been carrying out for the past 8 years, but with 32m camera, it has better grand meter set, which we never had before. Now, we can have our own high earth resolution data from our grand station whenever we want it,” he added.
Seidu maintained that Nigeria would be saved over $2billion on high resolution imagery annually by NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat -X and disclosed that the agency would soon train military and para-military agencies in Nigeria on how to make use of the data provided by the satellite.
“We’re dividing the training of the security agencies into two - the military and other security agencies. The intention is to bring them here and train them on how to use our data. Every satellite has its own parameters and they need to understand that.
‘‘Paramilitary like the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) will need to understand how they can use earth observation in peak period for cities like Abuja, Lagos, Prot Harcourt and Kano,” he said.
On the environmental impact and effects of the decommissioning, the DG assured that the impact would be very minimal.
“The fuel left in the satellite will be used for the decommissioning. The satellite was small and most of it would have burnt out in orbit before it re-enters the earth. We expect that it would take about 40 years to re-enter the earth,” he explained.
Earlier on in his speech, Odeh had said that the facility tour was to enlighten science journalists on the activities of the agency for effective communication to the public.
He said: “Space technology might sound huge but it is not rocket science. We’re here to demystify what the agency is doing, decipher it and communicate it effectively to relevant people.”