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Mon, Sep 29, 2003

Nigeria Joins Space Club

Yes, Nigeria

Maybe it was paid for by all those folks who keep sending the e-mail in the Rule 419 system; maybe it's UN (US) funds. Maybe it's all been put on someone's Visa card. No matter; Nigeria's first satellite is on its way.

Saturday morning, a Russian-built Kosmos-3M (known during the Cold War as an 'SS-5') blasted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, carrying six satellites. Two were Russian military satellites; and one each belonged to the governments of Great Gritain, South Korea, Turkey, and Nigeria.

Nigeria's $13 million satellite is designed to keep an eye on that country's resources, both in and out of the ground. It will keep a sharp eye on forest growth, cutting, disease and erosion; and it's also good enough to be a useful tool in finding Nigeria's oil thieves. Nigeria produces a lot of oil, but very little gets to market through legitimate channels; literally tons are stolen every day, as the oil is enroute in that country's pipelines.

Nigeria, one of the Earth's many poor nations, is hoping to get a handle on just how its peoples' wealth is being managed and stolen. Perhaps this new tool will inded pay for itself over its projected five-to-seven year life. At least, the satellite is up where nobody can steal it.



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