Global Space Technology Forum reveals exponential growth of regional space industry

Published December 8th, 2009 - 10:14 GMT

Leading regional and international space industry experts convened in Abu Dhabi today, for the opening of the region’s leading platform for space and satellite technology.


The second edition of the Global Space Technology Forum was officially inaugurated by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, President, Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.


Prince Sultan Bin Salman cut the ribbon to officially open the conference and exhibition.


The three day event at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, organised by Streamline Marketing Group, comes at an exciting time for the region’s space industry with many exciting projects on the horizon and follows several successful space activities in the UAE such as the launch of DubaiSat-1, the UAE’s first satellite and the announcement of major multi-million dollar projects by Abu Dhabi-based companies Aabar Investments and 4C GEOC.


The Global Space Technology Forum Conference opened with a global keynote session by Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the first Arab, Muslim and Royal to visit space, delivered the first speech on the strategic role of space technology in regional economic development.


Dr. Turki Bin Saud Bin Mohammed Al Saud, The Vice President for Research Institutes, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST); Michael O'Brien, Asst. Administrator, NASA Office of External Relations, USA; and Dr. Jose Achache, Director, Group on Earth Observations (GEO) followed Prince Sultan with keynote speeches.


In a session on space policy, regulations and economics, Dr. Mohamed Argoun, the former Director of the Egyptian Space Program discussed the economic and social benefits for nations of the Middle East embarking on space-based initiatives.  He also presented a detailed outline of the necessary steps and milestones that governmental and commercial space entities in the region must reach before creating a Pan-Arab space agency. 


“The larger dream is the creation of an Arab Space Agency, but there are critical elements of space industry capability that must be in place first,” said Dr. Argoun. 


“We must develop a joint remote-sensing Arab satellite project first, and see the establishment of indigenous private sector space companies to form partnerships with international companies and push for greater development of the region’s space industry.  University support is also important, as is gaining a foothold in component manufacturing activity and greater regional involvement in satellite design and assembly.”


The same session also saw presentations from Dr. Mohamed Tarabzouni from the Space Research Institute at KACST, who discussed the important role space technology plays in disaster management and mitigation.  Dr. Ahmed Al Mansoori of the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) presented case studies of MENA-based space programs as a model for other emerging space nations developing public and private space initiatives.


The final session of the day focused on commercial opportunities related to space. Dr. Ramin Khadem, Chairman of Odyssey Moon Limited gave an account of commercial lunar-focused endeavours and made a case for further exploration beyond geostationary orbit and lunar enterprise. 


He explained that early lunar missions by the USSR and USA lacked an economic agenda and explored less than one per cent of the Moon’s surface area.  Recent plans for lunar exploration, by contrast, are designed to map and discover new areas of the moon, further scientific research, provide a galactic gateway to other parts of the solar system and beyond, and forge a new frontier for business. 


“Space commerce is a mature business with over US$160 billion in annual revenues earned by orbiting satellites, and the highly profitable satellite communications industry has extended Earth’s economic sphere to 40,000km.  Lunar commerce will extend the economic sphere another order of magnitude, and greatly increase revenue,” Dr. Khadem said.


James Van Laak, representing the USA’s Federal Aviation Administration delivered the keynote address for the session on the current status and future developments in space transportation. Martin Gee of Al Yahsat Satellite Communications and Jason Y. Kim also spoke on developments and opportunities for commercial satellite projects.


The Global Space Technology Exhibition is running alongside the conference, providing a unique opportunity for worldwide space industry organisations to highlight their products, services, technologies and capabilities.


The exhibitor line-up includes EIAST, UAE Space Reconnaissance Centre, Telecom Regulatory Authority, LSE Space Middle East, International Space University, Thuraya, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, Clyde Space, 4C satimage, Integrasys S.A. and LMS International.


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