Seeing stars: UAE Space Agency to launch four new satellites by 2020
DubaiSat-two, which was launched into orbit in 2013, was 70 per cent designed by Emiratis. (Shutterstock)
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The UAE will be sending into orbit four more commercial, communication and governmental satellites by 2020 apart from eight CAN or Cube satellites that are for educational purposes, said Dr Mohammed Al Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency.
The satellite programme is part of the UAE ambitions in space and outer atmosphere. The Mars probe announced last year has already gathered steam as the UAE Space Agency has entered into MoUs with the world's leading nations who have expertise in satellite technology.
The director-general said that the country, which is already leading the Arab and Muslim world in satellite technology, has already sent six satellites for communication, environment and defence purposes.
KhalifaSat-One satellite will be sent into Orbit next year, followed by Yahsat-3 which will cover South America providing that part of the world with latest communications connectivity.
Remaining two satellites would be "governmental," Al Ahbabi told Khaleej Times.
The eight educational satellites would be locally designed and built by the university students. They would carry-out experiments on various scientific data.
Satellite-maker Being is also engaged in providing training to the Emirati students under a programme.
The UAE operates more than seven satellites for commercial, defence and governmental use, and "we are keen to expand on this strong foundation."
Emirati scientists are working in this field. DubaiSat-two, which was launched into orbit in 2013, was 70 per cent designed by Emiratis, Al Ahababi said.
KhalifaSat-One will be 100 per cent developed by Emirati engineers in South Korea, and all further development, manufacture and testing will be moved to EIAST headquarters in Dubai, he said. The programme began in 2013.
All key aspects of the project will have involvement of UAE engineers to ensure the objective of knowledge gain and transfer. UAE engineers are involved in the development of the spacecraft bus and its key components and the instrumentation. The contribution of UAE engineers in system design will be 30 per cent.
To a question, the director-general said the government would encourage the private sector to take interest in space programmes by investing in it.
The UAE Space Agency is a regulator, facilitator which would provide legal framework for any such investments.
Earlier, speaking at the Global Aerospace Summit, he said the National Space Policy is being giving final touches while the first draft of a law on space is ready and would be presented to the cabinet.
"These initiatives would clarify the aims and objectives of the UAE Space progamme," he said.
"The UAE has become a hotbed for innovation and development within the aviation, aerospace and space sectors and it is well suited to welcome the top players within these fields to deliberate and analyse these industries," he said.
The development of space technologies and the space sector are catalysts for economic development and diversification. "It creates job opportunities and allows us to enable scientists and engineers to become pioneers of an industry that can bring huge benefits to our daily lives," he said.
"Our ambition is to continue developing the space sector in the UAE by working with our key stakeholders such as Thuraya, Yahsat and MBRSC, as well as through strategic international partnerships," he said.
"The mission to Mars is our first major mission and that is our main focus in terms of space projects."
The UAE's investment in space technology is already substantial exceeding Dh20 billion.
By Haseeb Haider
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