Nigeria and the Space Exploration and Research Agency, SERA, from Delaware, USA, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, to send the first Nigerian to space.

Chief Uche Nnaji, Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, said at the signing of the MoU in Abuja yesterday, that human spaceflight was a major aspiration of Nigeria.

“Human spaceflight is not just a random aspiration of our country but a major objective of the Nigeria Space Policy and Programme which was approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, in 2001.

“Reviving and implementing all abandoned national plans is a cardinal point of the Renewed Hope Agenda of the administration of President Bola Tinubu. This partnership provides a way of achieving our long-time aspiration as a nation,” he said.

The minister said the slot could be available from now till December, or in 2025, as SERA would still be test-running the platform.

Dr Matthew Adepoju, Director- General of NASRDA, said the cost of sending a Nigerian to space had been fully sponsored by SERA, adding that the event marked the commencement of the agency’s efforts to implement part of its roadmap of having a human spaceflight.

He also said the event was worth celebrating at a time Nigeria was marking the 25 years of its space programme.

“The Human Spaceflight programme is one of the cardinal objectives of National Space Policy and Programme.

“It was with this in mind that we established the Department of Physical and Life Sciences about three years ago to forge this mandate.

“This is also coming as one of our deep space explorations because there are many spinoffs that will come from the collaboration and opportunities opened for Nigerians,” he said.

Mr Joshua Skurla, Co-Founder of SERA, said that 80 per cent of astronauts, globally, had exclusively emanated from three countries.

Skurla noted that Nigeria had a rich history of scientific, technological innovation, adding that SERA was excited to partner with NASRDA to extend the legacy into space and create new opportunities for Nigerian space explorers.

Mr Sam Hutchison, Founder of SERA, said that the application to be in space was open to any Nigerian older than 18 years, in spite of their discipline.

“The Nigerian people will choose the citizen to go to space, the process of application will be open to anybody who is over 18 years, and there are no other qualifications required.

“You will be able to sign up and then encourage others to vote for you; as part of democratic process, the Nigerian people will select four potential astronaut candidates before a final selection process.