Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the federal government is to start the training of local astronauts for space travel by 2015.
Minister of Science and Technology, Professor Ita Ewa, Monday announced the government's intention to train astronauts for space travel while giving a report of the achievements of his ministry in the past two years, at a press conference in Abuja.
Ewa who said the ministry was waiting for President Goodluck Jonathan to approve the training programme, added that the country would also collaborate with the Chinese government for the development of a space rocket.
Already, the minister said a launch site with a 20-kilometre launch capability had been set up in Epe, Lagos State, adding that 12 engineers from the National Space Research and Development Agency (NARSDA) are in China for training.
Speaking on the benefits to Nigeria from an improved space programme, the minister explained that once the president has approved the programme, the country would start preparing the launch of two more communication satellites.
According to him, the socio-economic benefits of such deployment of satellites include; security surveillance, flood management, environmental surveillance for pest and diseases infested areas, desertification and pollution, especially oil spillage in the Niger Delta.