Widening the orbit of the UAE space plans - GulfToday

Widening the orbit of the UAE space plans

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The well-known physicist and author Stephen Hawking once said, “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

This is precisely the tenet on which the UAE seems to operate. Space exploration has been a cornerstone of the country’s strategy towards making its impact on the international stage, carving a niche for itself in the comity of nations. It has already done the mission impossible: sent an astronaut to the International Space Station, and launched satellites, even, in what is considered a major milestone, a Hope probe to the Red Planet.

The fact that the UAE Space Agency (UAESA) is among the first signatories to NASA’s Artemis Accords is testimony to the fact that where space exploration or ventures are concerned, the country is prepared to knuckle down.

In May, Nasa, the American space Agency, formally announced the Artemis Accords, based on a shared vision for principles, grounded in the United Nations’ Outer Space Treaty of 1967, to create a safe and transparent environment that facilitates exploration, science and commercial activities for the benefit of all humanity.

The Accords aligns with the UAE’s long-term programmes to explore outer space and collaborate internationally on better understanding of our solar system.

Though a young nation with a relatively young space programme, the UAE has made pretty impressive strides.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre owns remote sensing satellites, like the DubaiSat 1 and 2 satellites and its successor KhalifaSat.

These satellites have helped produce several scientific reports and studies that are dedicated to observing and monitoring the Earth, and also provide satellite images.

History was written in big, bold letters when the first Emirati astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori visited the International Space Station (ISS) last year.

Another creditworthy achievement is the successful launch of the Hope Probe Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), that will provide us with a comprehensive understanding of the weather system of Mars along with better understanding of underlying factors that could cause climate change.

Yet another very commendable feat has been the announcement by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, on the launch of the Emirates Lunar Mission, the first Emirati and Arab mission to explore the moon. The mission supports the UAE’s efforts to enhance the region’s space industry and contribute to its future built by innovative Emirati minds.

The Emirates Lunar Mission is part of the new 2021-2031 strategy launched by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, MBRSC, which includes the development and launch of the first Emirati lunar rover named “Rashid”, after the late Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the builder of modern Dubai.

The explorer will be designed and built in the UAE by an entirely Emirati team of engineers, experts, and researchers. If successful, the UAE will become the first Arab country and the fourth country in the world to land on the lunar surface after the United States, Soviet Union, and China.

It is not just seasoned experts or scientists who are involved; young students are evincing keen interest too, and taking part in propelling the nation’s growth forward.

Recently, the UAE’s MeznSat, a national project in partnership between the UAE Space Agency, American University of Ras Al Khaimah, AURAK, and Khalifa University, KU, lifted off aboard a Soyuz-2b rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia.

A team of KU postgraduate students and AURAK undergraduate students will monitor, process and analyse the data sent to the ground station at KU’s Yahsat laboratory and the supporting ground station at AURAK.

Truly, the space industry could become one of the UAE’s most promising sectors and a key pillar of economic growth over the next 50 years.


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