CAP CANAVERAL, FLORIDA, USA - An American space venture has begun a process that aims to fly the first Nigerian to space with Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space exploration company.

Space Exploration and Research Agency (SERA), a US for-profit company, has an initiative to increase flights for citizens of countries with little or no space footprint. Its first milestone was flying Brazil’s second-ever astronaut to space in June 2022.

SERA’s next mission will fly six people to space on an upcoming Blue Origin New Shepard flight — and one seat is guaranteed to go to a Nigerian.

A public online voting process will select the Nigerian for the mission, SERA’s co-founders Sam Hutchison and Joshua Skurla told Semafor Africa. Any healthy adult resident with basic English language speaking abilities can nominate themselves for the mission.

They will need to canvass votes from the public to boost their chances. Votes will be verified using a blockchain system to ensure a fair selection process, the founders said.

The company signed a partnership agreement with Nigeria’s National Space Research and Development Agency on Wednesday to amplify the opportunity and collaborate on science experiments that will be performed by the mission crew in space.

Commenting on the SERA partnership, Nigeria’s innovation and science minister Uche Godfrey Nnaji said sending people to space was not a “random aspiration” but a “major objective.”