Controllers in Nigeria and the U.K. are commissioning NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X following the launch early Wednesday on a Dnepr vehicle that lifted off from Yasny, in southern Russia.

Ground stations in Guildford, U.K., and Abuja, Nigeria, established contact with the spacecraft in their 686-km (426-mi.) Sun-synchronous orbits following separation from the launch vehicle, and reported a successful launch.

Built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL), NigeriaSat-2 is a higher-resolution follow-on to NigeriaSat-1, an SSTL product launched in 2003. It boasts 2.5-meter panchromatic and 5-meter multispectral resolution over a 20-km swath, and has the ability to roll 45 deg. off center for stereo imaging and faster response.

Piggyback payload

Piggybacking on the NigeriaSat-2 payload was the 100-kg (220-lb.) NigeriaSat-X, a hands-on training tool for Nigerian spacecraft engineers. A total of 26 Nigerian engineers worked on the satellite as the African nation develops its aerospace industry.

“This is a great day for the Nigerian space industry and builds on the success of NigeriaSat-1,“ stated S.O. Mohammed, head of the Nigerian National Space Research and Development Agency. “NigeriaSat-2 will significantly boost African capabilities for remote-sensing applications, specifically for natural resource management. This high-resolution satellite will also greatly enhance image data available to the Disaster Monitoring Constellation [DMC].”

The DMC will add the 22-meter resolution of NigeriaSat-X to its capabilities. Operated by DMC International Imaging Ltd., an SSTL subsidiary, the multinational constellation of Earth-observing satellites sells data worldwide and provides it free-of-charge for humanitarian use after natural and manmade disasters. In addition to Nigeria, other partners in the consortium are Algeria, China, Turkey, Spain and the U.K.

“The completion of this significant engineering project is testament to the success of the rapidly growing U.K. space industry,” stated Science Minister David Willetts. “Not only are we producing technology and services that are in global demand, but we are also helping more countries use satellite imagery to tackle important issues, including urban development and disaster relief.”