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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
'Space flight' for Nigerian girl
Stella
Stella is top of her class at physics and chemistry
A 17-year-old schoolgirl is to become the first Nigerian to experience a "space flight" when she takes off from the Kennedy Space Center on Saturday.

Stella Felix from the south-east was chosen from 400 Nigerian students who applied to go on a zero-gravity flight.

"I feel like an ambassador," she said before leaving Lagos for Florida. "I feel so happy to be the first."

She will fly at an altitude of 10km (6 miles) on G-Force One, before dropping, giving a minute of weightlessness.

These parabolic flights on board a Boeing 727 are used as a training exercise for astronauts - and have been given the nickname the "vomit comet". They do not leave the atmosphere but simulate the experience of being in space.

Stella is top of her school in science subjects. Her parents earn a living selling second hand clothes.

"I'll be looking up in the sky for her," her mother Eunice told AP news agency.

The trip is organised to coincide with the United Nations' Space Week.

"The goal of the programme is to use space to inspire education on a global basis while promoting international understanding among the youth," said Robert Boroffice, director general of the National Space Research and Development Agency.

In 2001, the Nigerian Government formally adopted a National Space Policy and launched its first satellite in 2003.


SEE ALSO
Nigeria enters space age
27 Sep 03 |  Africa
Space tourist, new crew board ISS
20 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature

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