The National Space Research and Development Agency (NARSDA) says it is working ahead of schedule on the commissioning of the country’s recently launched two earth observation satellites, NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X.
Mr Frank Chizea, the Project Manager of the satellites, told newsmen at the satellites ground station yesterday, in Abuja, that the agency was currently carrying out the testing of the satellites’ components to maximise their operations.
Chizea said that the uploading of software at the ground station had been hitch-free as the ground station was also performing “extremely well”.
He said that the commissioning process was only possible whenever the satellites were within the telemetric view of the ground station which, according to him, occurs four times daily, twice in both day and night.
“Right now, I can tell Nigerians that we are ahead of schedule because we have an almost perfect launch; the satellites were placed where we wanted them to be, and they are doing very well and responding positively. For example, we are able to take the first image of NigeriaSat-X about four days after its launch and that was not expected until two weeks after launch,” the project manager said.
Reacting to reports that there was no ground station for the two satellites in Nigeria, Chizea said NARSDA had functional ground stations for all its satellites through which the satellites were being tracked and information received from them.
“The first ground station we have was for NigeriaSat-1, which is a 2.7-metre disc. Now, we have a more advanced ground station which is for NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X, which is a 7.2-metre disc operating in both X and X-Band frequencies, which can also operate NigeriaSat-1.”
Chizea emphasised that NARSDA was in full control of the new satellites as Nigerian engineers were handling the operations at the ground station.
He explained that the ground station of its UK partner used at the early commissioning stage of the satellites was to have a quick contact with the satellites during the launch, and added that four Nigerian engineers participated in the process.
Our correspondent recalls that Prof. Ita Ewa, the Minister of Science and Technology, had said that the commissioning activities of NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X would be completed by the end of October.
“Given the enormous amount of information to be uploaded into the spacecraft and into orbit, the commissioning of both satellites will be completed by the end of October 2011. Subsequently, images can be accessed from the satellites for the various local and international applications,” Ewa said.