By Yaya Ademola
THE world has dramatically changed especially in the last 20-25 years to the extent that what used to be rocket sciences have been very simplified. Until 2006, we used to have nine planets in our Solar System: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Now, it is established that after Neptune and Pluto, there are dwarf planets, dozens of moons, millions of asteroids, comets and meteoroids. Today, the Solar System is the gravitational bound system of the Sun and the objects that orbit it. Research established that it formed 4.6 billion years ago from gravitational collapse of the composition in the sun. The Solar system consists of star, sun, and everything bound to it by gravity.
Earlier, space experiments explored the use of large orbiting satellites as passive reflectors of signals from point to point on earth with signals sent from ground, electronically processed and sent to another ground station. However, space exploration today allows human beings to prove or discard scientific theories developed on earth like the earlier thoughts on the solar system, the magnetosphere, the atmosphere, fluid dynamics, and geological evolution of other planets, amongst others. For instance, it made us know that mars is the fourth planet from the Sun; that it is dusty, cold, desert plain with a very thin atmosphere. It is the only planet in our solar system to which rovers have been sent by United States, former Soviets Union, China, United Arab Emirates, India and Europe to roam the landscape to study its geology and climate. Mars is about half earth size with a radius of 2,106 miles (3,390 kilometers).
Space exploration has too numerous goodies for humanity: it allows us have breakthrough in our challenges on assumptions and stupendously expand our horizon of knowledge for further discoveries hitherto unknown – on security, agriculture, information, transportation and communication; it improves every aspect of our lives as experiments performed in space make us have better understanding of our Earth challenges to proffering solutions; it simplifies difficulties of our day-to-day activities such as weather forecast, mass movement of people from one point to the other and global communication; it provides high-tech jobs for the young and old; it enhances safety on earth as satellites data could be used to alert on impending natural disaster so that provisions could be made for emergencies and relieves materials amongst others.
Although the world survives on interdependence as each country produces en-masse on its areas of strength for its domestic use and exportation and imports what it lacks as every country is differently endowed, a smart country will ensure it develops potential in virtually all areas of life, especially on staple food and consumables for its citizen; technology and armament to protect itself against external aggression and international sanctions among others. Hence, every serious nation will move to space to explore scientific wonders for better life and protection of its people. Russia had the first satellite launch in space on October 4, 1957 and sent first human being, Yuri Gagarin, into space on April 12, 1961. It was the first shot in the ensuing scramble to put man on the moon.
Since 24th February, 2022 Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the avoidable war that has killed many led to massive displacements of people with attendant socio-economic disaster worldwide, US and NATO sanctions against Russia has not had major impact on it. Instead, it has boomeranged and had affected cost of living in the west. Could the US accept that one of its neighbors, Mexico for instance, join a military alliance with Russia that allows Russia to put a military base in Mexico? How does it expect Russia to accept Ukraine joining NATO and having NATO military bases next door to Russia? Discuss on this is for another day. However, what should be noted is that Russia is able to overcome “crippling” western sanctions because of its history, tradition and scientific exploration and development. Russia has capacity to invent and develop armament at half the cost of the product in the west; it has committed soldiers who not only know how to kill but how to die in war front.
Nigeria has a communication satellite – NigComSat-2. Its earth observation satellite, NigeriaSat-2, has passed its expiry date, although still functioning. If this satellite collapses, Nigeria capacity to access space for development and security will be jeopardised; although, Nigeria National Space Research and Development Agency has, in 2011, launched Sat 1R with a lifespan of 15 years which will expire in 2026.
Despite our huge potentials, we are far away from attainable modern and decent world and refined human being. We behave like pristine dwellers of the cave during the formation and development of homo sapiens. Space technology that we have refused to harness has capacity to monitor and protect our 400,000 barrels of crude oil worth $1.9bn stolen every day, according to Melee Kyari, Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited; it can locate vandals and terrorists abode, identify them and deliver havoc that could obliterate them very fast and unprepared. What do we have instead? Terrorists threatening to kidnap our President! They have forced farmers out of farmland which has hugely contributed to soaring prices of foods. They have made fool of presidency in negotiating prisoners exchange without fulfilling their side of agreement. They have killed young and old and continued to kill even after collection of ransom from the victims’ families. We produce virtually nothing of great worth but desire to consume almost every good thing of life. We cannot survive a month economic sanction from US or any advanced nation we now heavily depend on. Who will buy our crude oil, refine it or send us consumables, including common toothpick?
The main area of strength we have demonstrated is building religious centers in almost every street; having relaxation centers and short rest hotels where pepper soup and various liquors are sold, surrounded with sex workers. For how long shall we continue with this? Our Universities where researches are to be conducted for development have been shutdown for over six months as a result of government indifferent attitude, as the wards of majority of politicians school abroad. Our cashless policy and e-Naira are a mirage. Bandits and herdsmen have chased farmers out of farms which has led to skyrocketing prices of staple foods and other consumables. As we move to 2023 general elections, none of the leading political parties has articulated a manifesto on providing any better offer to our people and the nation; some lesser parties that so did have been scrapped by INEC. There is an urgent need for progressives and patriots to come together, irrespective of tendencies, to redefine the political paradigm in the interim, and eventually forming a mass political party that will salvage this messy situation and take us to the Promised Land. Enough should be enough of 18th Century life in 21st Century!