'Our Journey Has Just Started': Sheikh Hamdan Outlines Ambitious Emirati Space Plan For The Future


(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Mon 2 Oct 2023, 7:58 PM

Last updated: Mon 2 Oct 2023, 10:01 PM

UAE continues to break barriers when it comes to space exploration, even after Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi came back home after spending six months on the International Space Station (ISS).

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, on Monday chaired a board meeting of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), where a blueprint for the future of space projects in the country was laid out.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed said that the next phase in the UAE's journey would see "groundbreaking Emirati space ventures."

"We aim to be a major player in shaping the future of space exploration," he added.

There are a number of ambitious initiatives in the pipeline, which will seal UAE's place as a top player in the global space industry.

The Crown Prince outlined the following milestones set to be achieved in this sector:

1. UAE astronauts Mohammed Al Mulla and Nora Al Matroushi are all set to blast off into space in 2024 on important missions.

2. Also in 2024, the MBZ-Sat will be launched. This will be "the Arab world's most advanced satellite to date."

3. The Rashid Rover 2 project, which aims to put a rover on the Moon, as did its predecessor, will continue as well.

"Our journey has just started, and the best is yet to come," Sheikh Hamdan concluded.

Updates on programmes and missions

During the meeting, Sheikh Hamdan was briefed on MBRSC's latest accomplishments, including the success of the longest Arab space mission, led by UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi and the UAE's collaboration with international space agencies and leading local and international universities. The mission included over 200 experiments that reflected the nation's commitment to exploring space and science for the benefit of humankind.

Sheikh Hamdan reviewed the latest satellite building projects, which aim to design, build and operate advanced earth-monitoring satellites, including the MBZ-SAT, which upon its launch next year will be the most advanced commercial satellite in the region in the field of high-resolution satellite imagery. With 90 per cent of its mechanical structure and 50% of its electronic modules built locally, MBZ-SAT will be the second satellite to be built entirely by Emirati engineers, following KhalifaSAT.

Sheikh Hamdan was also briefed on the progress of the Rashid Rover 2 project, the UAE's latest mission to the moon, which was announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in April 2023. The mission will build on the achievements of the previous project to design and build the world's most compact rover 'Rashid Rover', which became the first Emirati and Arab rover to reach the lunar orbit before the landing attempt onboard iSpace's HAKUTO-R lander.

The board meeting also discussed the satellite Payload Hosting Initiative, a joint effort by MBRSC and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to advance capacity-building and promote space science and technology in developing countries. The initiative is a valuable opportunity to demonstrate innovation and new technology.

Sheikh Hamdan reviewed the latest developments related to the 'Hope Probe', including its unprecedented accomplishments which helped uncover secrets of the red planet Mars.

A global platform

Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori; Chairman, MBRSC Board of Directors, said:“Under the supervision of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, we will continue to bolster the UAE's role in space exploration. We will keep pace with the evolving space scene by strategically enhancing our capabilities and preparing for the future.

“At MBRSC, we do not only aim to nurture UAE innovation and talent, but also establish a global platform for sharing knowledge, expertise and data to build the future of space.”

A beacon of innovation

Salem Humaid Al Marri, Director General, MBRSC, said:“Under the leadership of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, MBRSC will continue to act as a beacon of innovation, and a key player in building the future of space exploration.

“We continue to create a collaborative working environment that nurtures talent and disruptive thinking. We aim to share and grow knowledge by supporting global collaborations to help introduce new, state-of-the-art technologies that will enhance human knowledge and quality of life.”

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre works with regional companies to create a launchpad for the local space industry. The Centre has partnered with local companies to manufacture components of the MBZ-SAT, including aluminium honeycomb panels.

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Khaleej Times

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