By Alex Abutu,
Nigeria’s profile in the global satellite industry has been boosted with the launch of two micro earth observation satellites code-named, NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X on Wednesday from a launch site in Yasny, Russia. But that is not the news.
The news is that NigeriaSat-X, a micro-satellite was from scratch, designed, built and tested by a team of Nigerian engineers. The Nigerian engineers in collaboration with scientists and engineers at the Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, Surrey, England will manage the total life cycle of the satellite.
The young Nigerians were trained as part of the Know-How Technology Training (KHTT) of the NigeriaSat-1 which, having exhausted its life cycle in orbit is being replaced with the new NigeriaSat-2.
The engineers used the KHTT to gain hands-on experience which culminated in the launch of NigeriaSat-X which is a training model satellite. A total of 26 Nigerian engineers participated in the project which lasted for 18 months from the design through to the test phases.
The key features of the NigeriaSat-X include a 22m next generation imager with improved resolutions and optics over the same swath areas as DMC+, swath of 600km at 8 bit, high rate X-band downlink set to 20 mbit/s.
Other features are low rate S-band at 8 mbit/s and 2×2 gbte data recorders. NigeriaSat-X sensor would be provide 22m multi-spectral (R,G,NIR) imagery while the data volume estimated would be handful of images per day.
NigeriaSat-2 according to the Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), the company that designed, built and launched it is the latest earth observation satellite integrated with a dnepr launch vehicle.
“NigeriaSat-2 is one of the most advanced earth observation small satellites ever to be launched,” SSTL said in a statement. “NigeriaSat-2’s very high resolution imagery gives the ability to pinpoint individual buildings, roads or fields of interest from space and will be used to provide data for urban planning, important to Nigeria’s rapidly-expanding cities,” the statement added.
Nigeria satellite managers, the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) plans to use the satellite to map the entire country in detail every four months as well as to enhance food security for Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, through monthly crop monitoring.
NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X will add new, higher resolution imaging capability to the Disaster Monitoring Constellation, a fleet of separately owned small satellites, coordinated by DMC International Imaging Ltd (DMCii) for daily global monitoring.
Built for a 7 year operational lifetime, NigeriaSat-2’s very high resolution imagery will see it acquiring and downlinking 20 times more data per day than its NigeriaSat-1 predecessor, providing large quantities of data for sale on the commercial market.
Nigeria began her journey into space with the establishment of the National Space Research and Development Agency in May 1999 as the foremost agency charged with building Nigeria’s competence in developing, designing, and building appropriate hard and software in space technology as an essential tool for socio-economic development.
In 2003 the agency was able to launch NigeriaSat-1, an earth observation satellite and followed it up in 2007 with the launch of Africa’s first communication satellite code-named NigcomSat-1 into geosynchronous orbit from the Xichang satellite launch centre in China.
NigcomSat-1 which was built by the Chinese eventually was de-orbited in controversial circumstances after 18 months prompting the then minister of science and technology, Alhassan Bako Zaku to say that the satellite was parked in orbit for technical reasons.
(image credit: SSTL)