The Director General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Dr. Halilu Shaba, has said Nigeria’s two satellites in the orbit have expired but are enjoying a grace period.
He said one of the satellites, which was commissioned in 2011, has a seven years lifespan and expired in 2018.
Shaba, who spoke on Monday July 26, 2021 on television programme, said the satellite was supposed to have been replaced but that the country had not done so because satellites function on fuel that gets exhausted after a period and gets decommissioned, if not replaced.
He said, “We have a satellite in high orbit, which was launched in 2011 and it has a seven-year lifespan. It was supposed to have expired in 2018, but in the culture of the satellite industry, you build a new satellite to replace it. But we have not done that.
“Right now, we are living in a grace period because, based on the fuel capacity, the satellite should only orbit for seven years.”
Also speaking on the matter, NASRDA Head of Media and Corporate Communications, Dr. Felix Ale, explained that Shaba was right about the expiration of the satellites, adding that there was no cause for alarm over their condition.
According to him, the satellites are not likely to break down in the near future because the agency was monitoring them daily.
Ale said, “When a satellite is in orbit, there is always a window of opportunity. We call it grace. If the satellite still has enough fuel, it may outlive its designed lifespan.
“So, we are very lucky that Nigeria’s Sat X, which was designed for five years, is still functioning in orbit, still downloading data. Up till this morning, we were still in communication with the satellite.
“Also, Nigeria’s Sat 2, which was designed and expected to last seven years, is still functioning very well in orbit. So, the two satellites are still functioning very well. There is no cause for alarm.
“Going by their designed lifespan, they were supposed to have expired. But we are in contact with the satellites on daily basis. From what we have seen from monitoring the satellites, I can assure you that nothing will happen to them for now.
“We are in the process of replacing them. If you monitor very well, recently, we had the Space Council meeting, chaired by the President. He has requested that the Council should come up with the submission. We are on it. The final submission will be made by the Minister of Science and Technology.
“We are now at the preliminary stage and believe that as soon as the approval is given, we can come up with a window of activities for a launch.
“Right now, efforts and arrangements are in place for us to get another set of satellites.”