Nigeria's first satellite, NigeriaSat-1, has reached the end of life after an impressive nine years in orbit, outliving its design life by four years.
Nigeria’s first satellite, NigeriaSat-1, has reached end of life after an impressive nine years in orbit, outliving its design life by four years. The satellite was retired from service after its replacement, NigeriaSat-2, was launched last year. Although it was still fully functional NigeriaSat-1 was prepared for end of life by using up its propellant and lowering the satellite orbit to reduce its remaining time in space, preventing it adding to the issue of long term space debris.
The last telemetry received from the satellite was on 27th September, and on the 4th October the power system was finally exhausted. As its successors take over, we look back at the career of a satellite that started Nigeria’s space programme….
was Nigeria’s first satellite, marking the beginning of its space programme. SSTL built NigeriaSat-1 for the Nigerian Space Agency (NASRDA) to provide large coverage medium resolution (32m) imagery in 3 bands (green, red and near infrared). This multispectral imagery was ideal for environmental monitoring such as examining vegetation growth and the damage caused by fires and floods. Its huge 600 km swath width allowed NigeriaSat-1 to image large areas, returning to image a given spot on Earth with a revisit of 2-5 days.
NigeriaSat-1 provided valuable information on Africa’s resources and environment from feeding predictive models of desertification, mapping the Niger Delta, detecting environmental change, and spotting locust threats in Algeria and Syria.
NigeriaSat-1 also benefited the international community. NigeriaSat-1 was launched alongside UK-DMC (which retired earlier this year
) and BILSAT-1. Together with AlSat-1 they formed the first generation of the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC). As part of the DMC, NigeriaSat-1 acquired imagery to aid responders to the Asian Tsunami (2004), Hurricane Katrina (2005) as well as floods, volcanic eruptions, and other disasters through the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters.
NigeriaSat-1 was a catalyst for Nigeria’s space programme. Following its success, two more Earth Observation satellites have been launched by NASRDA. NigeriaSat-X
, launched last year, was jointly built by a team of engineers from SSTL and Nigeria in Guildford. Applying knowledge from their comprehensive Training and Development programme at SSTL, Nigerian engineers were able to learn satellite expertise ‘on the job’ and commissioned the satellite in orbit from their groundstation in Abuja. NigeriaSat-2, launched with NigeriaSat-X, is one of the most advanced satellites ever built. It is highly agile and equally suited to monitoring the explosive growth of Nigeria’s megacities as it is to assisting disaster relief as part of the DMC. NigeriaSat-2 provides continuity of NigeriaSat-1 data but also images in very high 2.5m resolution.