‘Will Mark Historic Firsts’: Mission To Send A Nigerian Citizen To Space

Published 12 days ago
Astronaut Standing On The Moon Looking Towards A Distant Earth
(Getty Images)

The Space Exploration & Research Agency (SERA) has partnered with Nigeria’s National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) to send a Nigerian astronaut aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital rocket.

SERA’s initiative aims to enhance representation in space exploration, welcoming citizens from historically underrepresented nations, including India and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

“In terms of direct impact, the mission will mark historic firsts for a number of nations, gradually reducing the long list of countries that have never ventured into space. We hope this generates public support for national space programs and private investment in the new space economy,” Sam Hutchison, SERA’s co-founder, shares with FORBES AFRICA.

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Nigeria launched its first satellite, Nigeria Sat-1, in 2003, and has since deployed five additional satellites.

The selected participants will experience an 11-minute flight, crossing the Kármán line — the internationally recognized boundary of space — situated 100 kilometers (62 miles) above Earth’s surface. Rigorous training awaits them at Blue Origin’s launch site in West Texas, beginning three days before the flight.

“In partnership with leading space research institutions, we will provide a platform for students, researchers, and the general public to propose experiments within defined parameters that will be performed during the flight. This allows us to involve a broader community directly in the mission and promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) uptake in participating nations,” says Hutchison.

While Blue Origin’s launch schedule remains undisclosed, mission registration will open in August, with final crew selection expected in the last quarter of this year.

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Aspiring candidates must meet specific physical criteria and pay a $2.50 fee for verification checks. However, Hutchison notes: “We are exploring regional and global partnerships and sponsors that would potentially reduce or eliminate this fee for select mission participants.”

Candidates will undergo public voting, with the sixth global seat open to votes from any country.

This initiative follows SERA’s successful mission in 2022, when Brazilian civil engineer Victor Hespanha became the second astronaut from his country to journey into space.

“In the weeks following Victor’s mission, we recognized the profound impact this program could have across nearly 150 nations that have never had an astronaut, and even those with limited representation like Brazil. While Victor’s selection was fortunate, we believe it would be more meaningful and engaging to allow the public in each partner nation or group of nations to democratically select the astronaut,” shares Hutchison.

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