The most pressing barriers between reality and the dream of the first African astronaut in space are a lack of resources, cooperation, and support. However, Nigeria presently suffers from the threat of famine, intercommunal violence, and population displacement as a result of terrorism and food insecurity. The reliance upon humanitarian aid from countries such as the United States and international NGOs creates a question of whether Nigeria should even be considering exploration of space. It can be said that any investment into space should instead be granted to displaced people, water and food security, and cracking down on terrorism. Why should a developing country go to space? And what benefits would human space flight provide to people struggling on earth?
Economically, the benefits of sending an African into orbit reap effects such as a significant return in investment for the space sector of the continent. Socially, cultural and national pride, international respect, and historical reverence are certainly guaranteed by this accomplishment. There is always a risk in human space flight, be it political or economic investment. There is the risk that the country would be scrutinized for looking to the stars instead of to their own conflict-riddled soil. There is the risk that if a mission fails, money will be wasted and lives needlessly lost. There is a risk that success in the sky will be short-lived, or that political corruption may collapse the foundations of this venture. However, where there is risk, there is also opportunity. There is an opportunity to create stronger diplomatic relationships with other space-interested nations who seek to invest in Africa as a launching point for their own expeditions. There is an opportunity to begin an economic and cultural legacy of African-based space exploration, a legacy that provides secure jobs and education to African citizens and invites international investment and interest. And of course, there is opportunity to put the first African astronaut into space.
Conclusively, the quickest and most cost-efficient method to launch an African astronaut into space is by international collaboration on a lunar mission, a space station, or low-earth orbit. This, however, is a short-term solution. For a long-lasting investment into space, the true answer is to create a continental space agency for Africa that would permit its countries to embark on space-faring journeys at their own will. Reliance on foreign countries can solidify or promote diplomatic relations, but it will not improve the local situation in Africa. This requires the collaboration of involved African countries as well as a feasible economic plan to maintain such an organization. The ownership of African spaceports, with the provision of access to partnering countries, would give the continent leverage in international affairs, grant jobs to African citizens, and grant a prosperous stake in the future colonization and exploration of space.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Sciences
Politics, Security and International Affairs
Winns, Desiree, "The Cost, Politics and Controversy of Human Space Flight in Nigeria or How to Put the First African Astronaut into Space" (2022). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 1223.
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