At Exactly 10:07 a.m. on Saturday, the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, made history when the SpaceX Falcon9 Rocket launched Birds 1 satellites, comprising 5 CubeSats belonging to Japan, Ghana, Mongolia, Nigeria and Bangladesh, into Space from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, USA.
The Nigerian CubeSat, code name NigeriaEdusat-1, is designed, built and owned by FUTA in collaboration with the National Space Research and Development Agency, NASRDA, Abuja, Nigeria, and Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan. Ibukun Adebolu of FUTA’s Department of Mechanical Engineering is the representative of Nigeria on the project. The initial launch scheduled for Thursday June 1 was aborted due to adverse weather condition.
The satellite is expected to dock at the International Space Station, ISS, on June 5 at 10:30 a.m. Nigerian time. It is the first ever University satellite to be launched in Nigeria. From the International Space Station, the satellites will be deployed into lower orbit during the last week of June 2017.
The major objective of Nigeria Edusat-1 is capacity building, i.e. domesticating the satellite technology in a Nigerian university, FUTA, and making the technology a common business among staff and students of the university in Nigeria for the purpose of research, resources and environmental management and sustainable socio-economic development of the nation. The satellite technology development in the long run shall have spillover effects on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education that is an essential tool for a country industrial development.
Mr. Adebolu, who is involved in the Structure Configuration Design, BIRDS Project gives details of his role on the project, “My role in the Birds’ Project is Structure Design. Drawing on my background in Mechanical Engineering, I am saddled with the task of ensuring that our satellites have sufficient strength and rigidity to survive the rigorous launch and space environments. In order to achieve this, I have to ensure that all payload and Bus System are properly accommodated within the 10-cubic centimeter structure. I find this very challenging, because it involves a lot of optimisation and trade-offs. In the future, I hope to work more on other aspects of satellite design.”
The Vice Chancellor, Joseph Fuwape, said with the successful launch, FUTA has shown the capabilities of Nigerian scientists and would build on the success to concretize its leading position in cutting edge researches and scientific breakthroughs.