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Nigeria’s Satellite is Surviving by Grace

Abuja has sponsored or co-sponsored six satellites, of which only two are currently operational. One of them is functioning even though it has passed its expiry date, according to the director general of the National Space Research and Development Agency. Operationally, a satellite expires when any of its critical components suffers enough damage or is degraded to the point of causing system or major sub-system failure. The communication satellite was designed to last for 15 years (2011-2026) in orbit. The Earth observation satellite is surviving beyond projected life expectancy of seven years (2011-2018). This is a testament to the quality of its engineering, thanks to its manufacturer, the UK based Surrey Satellite Technology Limited. If NigeriaSat-2 goes down without replacement, it will affect Nigeria’s capacity to access space support for development and security. For example, the satellite provides information on security, agriculture and transportation. Aside from satellite generated data, the Nigerian government has limited capacity to determine things like agricultural and construction activities across the country in almost real time.