Nigeria's teenage girl to be first African off to space

Nigeria's teenage girl to be first African off to space

Postby Richard Akindele » Tue Sep 19, 2006 1:36 pm

ABUJA, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- A 17-year-old Nigerian girl will be the first African to participate in the world weightlessness flight scheduled for Sept. 23, the official News Agency of Nigeria reported on Monday.

Robert Boroffice, director general of the National Space Research and Development Agency, was quoted as saying that the flight, which would take off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the United States, "is an initiative of the non-government Spaceweek International Association (SIA)."

He added that the Nigerian girl called Stella Felix from Nigeria's southern state of Ebonyi, is an SS3 student of the Moremi High School, Ile-Ife. She was selected for the trip out of 400 students from 101 schools in Nigeria's south-west geo-political zone.

"Felix was picked based on the criteria sent in by the SIA requesting that the nominee be a female student aged between 15 and 18 from a poor family with a compelling story," he said.

"She will be the first international student to fly on a zero-Gplane from the Kennedy Space Center," he added.

Speaking on the planned trip, Boroffice said the flight would be a two-hour mission on board G-Force One. He added that the zero-G parabolic flight would be manned by trained pilots maneuvering the aircraft between 24,000 feet (7,200 meters) and 32,000 feet (9,600 meters) altitude.

"The goal of the program is to use space to inspire education on a global basis while promoting international understanding among the youth," he said.

According to Nigerian Federal Minister of Science and Technology Turner Isoun, the planned trip would be a good opportunity to showcase space education to Nigerian school children.

He said "the trip will further strengthen Nigeria's determination to deploy space science to every facet of the economy."

He said a Nigerian teenage astronaut would definitely boost the recently launched 25-year road map for the acquisition of the know-how in space science and technology. Enditem

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