Nigeria’s desire to venture into space technology gave rise to the establishment of National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in 1999. In other to actualize this desire, and in line with the directive of the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, NASRDA was given the mandate to vigorously pursue the attainment of space capabilities. In its course to attain NASRDA’s mandate, the Agency set up six activity centers as provided for in the National Space Policy and Programs. One of such centers is the Centre for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD).
The Centre started in 2001 as a Satellite Technology project with the initiation of the Nigeria Sat-1 Earth Observation satellite project before its metamorphoses into Centre for Satellite Technology Development.
Of the five centers established with CSTD, it appeared that the main burden of pursuance of the National Space Policy and Program fell heavily on the Centre for Satellite Technology Development. CSTD has the unique mandate of being the primary focus for development of satellite payloads for both geostationary and non-geostationary satellites.
On establishment, the Centre had Prof. J. I. Ejimanya as her first Director and Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Wakil Bako succeeded Prof. Ejimanya. Dr. Solomon Adeniyi, Prof. Olufemi Agboola and Dr. Halidu Ibrahim have been at the helms of CSTD’s affairs at different times. Prof. Spencer Ojogba Onuh is the current Director and Chief Executive.
Since its establishment, CSTD has collaborated with specialized agencies, institutions and companies in capacity building and development of advanced satellite systems for both remote sensing and communications applications.
CSTD is mandated to amongst others:
- Collaborate with specialized institutions
- Develop core competencies and critical mass of scientists and engineers in satellite subsystem design
- Develop laboratory and assembly plant for the production of ground station receivers
- Develop subsystems such as HPA, LNA, UP and down converters etc.
- Collaborate with other Nigerian institutions
- Collaborate with other countries and companies with space capabilities and know-how
To this end therefore in the development of Nigcom-Sat1, CSTD’s engineers and scientists were the core project members. The Centre has successfully collaborated with Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) to design, test, fabricate and launch Nigeria Sat-1. The collaboration later gave birth to the successful fabrication, manufacture and launch of Nigeria Sat-2 and Nigeria Sat-X respectively.
CSTD has invested heavily in capacity building, laboratory facilities and equipment, books, computers and software packages all in a bid to transform the Centre into a Centre of excellence in Satellite Technology. At present, the Centre can boast of over fifteen (15) Ph.D.’s and one hundred (100) Master’s degree holders. In the same vain, twenty seven (27) Engineers and Scientists have also benefited from the Know-How Technology Transfer (KHTT) that gave birth to the success of Nigeria Sat-2 and Nigeria Sat-X.
The Centre has recently collaborated with educational institutions in her efforts to attain continental leadership in Satellite Technology through the development of capabilities in Satellite subsystems as a tool for National growth, integration and huge contribution to the development of space technology for the benefit of mankind. These institutions include; University of Maiduguri, Landmark University-Kwara state, University of Abuja, and Federal University of Technology Minna, others include, Baze University-Abuja, University of Agriculture Makurdi and Kogi State Polytechnic Lokoja.
The Centre’s collaboration with Kogi State Polytechnic will in no distant time lead to the introduction of Aerospace Engineering into the curriculum of the institution. Similarly; Aerospace Engineering curriculum which has been developed with the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Maiduguri is before the University Senate for approval. In the same vain, some of the staff of the Centre were on sabbatical to University of Maiduguri, Landmark University, University of Abuja and Baze University respectively.
Other collaborations include that which was done with Defense Industrial Corporation (DICON) Kaduna. This CSTD –DICON collaboration is centered on the domestication and production of satellite thrusters, antenna’s etc. The Centre has interacted with engineering staff of some of the universities visited and circulated lists containing core areas of research and development that can lead to the design and production of payloads.
Programs and Projects
In line with the Centre’s mandate, mission and vision statements, the Centre has a reasonable number of ongoing programs and projects. They include the following:
- Assembly, Integration and Test Centre (AITC)
- Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)
In addition, the Centre has dedicated resources over the years to develop capacity of her staff especially engineers and scientists in the rudiments of Satellite Technology – building, launching, telemetry, tracking and control of all kinds of satellite through observation, communications, meteorology and scientific research, know-how capacity trainings of different sorts are also ongoing.
Laboratory hardware and software has also been acquired to aid the development of satellites and satellites subsystems. The Centre has in the past few years also dedicated resources in developing capacity through engagements in small scale engineering projects such as:
- Micro Satellite projects—PICO, Edu-Sat etc.
- The Phase Mission
- Satellite Structure prototype fabrication
- Cube-Sat and P-pod structure development
- Reaction Wheel Assembly
- Magnetorquer Rod
- Composite Material Technology (parabolic antenna)
- Emergency Management Project
Equally important is the fact that all the above projects and programs are being domesticated in other to attain indigenous competence and capabilities in satellite sub-system as a tool for national growth. For instance, LEO Microsatellite is aimed at locally designing and manufacturing an indigenous microsatellite. The satellite will on completion, operate at a low earth orbit and majority of the components were possible, will be fabricated in Nigeria. A benefit of this project include hands-on experience for engineers and as a result support the Centre’s objective of training and developing indigenous experts in the fabrication of satellite parts. From the timeline on the project, so far, the mission design reveals preliminary and critical designs which have been completed. The Centre has identified indigenous collaborators for its various sub- systems.
In May 2012, the contract for the manufacture of the structure sub-system was awarded to the Defense Industry Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) after a collaborative meeting. So far 50% of work has been completed which makes the whole project 30% – of payload construction complete since it is structure driven. This project is still ongoing.