Six decades after the first human reached space, a Nigerian will have the opportunity to do the same thanks to a partnership between the Space Exploration & Research Agency (SERA), a global space agency, and the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA).

The partnership will see SERA reserve a seat on an upcoming Blue Origin New Shepard suborbital spaceflight for a Nigerian citizen. The SERA-funded project is open to all Nigerians aged 18 years and above.

The partnership is part of a broader partnership with Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin, to send six individuals from nations historically underrepresented in space exploration. In 2022, the initiative sent Victor Hespanha, a Brazilian civil engineer, to space.

“Until now, space has been an exclusive domain, with over 80% of all astronauts to date coming from just three countries. Nigeria has a rich history of scientific and technological innovation, and we are honoured to partner with NASRDA to extend this legacy into space and create new opportunities for Nigerian space explorers,” said Joshua Skurla, Co-Founder of SERA.

SERA Cofounder Joshua Skurla Astronaut Victor Espanha_ Honourable Minister Innovation, Science and Technology Chief Uche Nnaji and SERA CoFounder Sam Hutchison at the Signing of the MoU.

This marks a significant milestone in Nigeria’s space exploration journey. For over two decades, Nigeria has talked up its space ambitions and made efforts. In 2000, the National Space Policy (NSP) was approved, two years after the establishment of NASRDA to break new frontiers through space exploration and exploitation. Nigeria launched its first satellite—Nigeria Sat-1 in 2003–and has gone on to launch five other satellites. In 2016, Nigeria said it plans to send its first astronaut to space by 2030. 

“We are delighted to see this partnership come to fruition. Human space flight is not just a random aspiration of our country,” Uche Godfrey Nnaji, Nigeria’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, said while signing the MoU on behalf of the Federal Government.

Dr. Matthew Adepoju, Director General/Chief Executive of NASRDA, described the partnership as “a testament to Nigeria’s growing prominence in the global space community.”

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox