The DubaiSat-2 satellite was designed and developed by South Korea's Satrec satellite manufacturing company and was launched in 2012 (Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Tech)
DUBAI — The United Arab Emirates plans to establish the first Gulf Arab space agency, and its first objective is to conduct a fully indigenous mission to Mars by 2021.
On his official Twitter account, Vice President Sheikh Mohammed Bin-Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and minister of defense said: “Today we announce two epic projects in our history: establishing UAE Space Agency and sending the first Arab spaceship to Mars by 2021.”
The project already has investments exceeding 20 billion dirhams (US $5.4 billion), the vice president said. In addition, the new agency will maximize the contribution of space industries to the national economy.
“The more than 60 [million] kilometer journey to Mars will mark UAE out as one of few countries with space programs to explore the Red Planet,” he said. “Our region is a cradle of great civilizations. Given the right tools, Arabs, once again, can deliver new scientific contributions to humanity.”
The government-owned Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) was established in 2006 to promote advanced research and satellite technology in the UAE.
In January 2008, Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala incorporated Yahsat satellite communications. The company approved a consortium of EADS Astrium and Thales Alenia to construct Yahsat’s own satellites for communications and government purposes.
The company also signed a 15-year lease agreement with the UAE armed forces to provide secure satellite communications in the UAE, their first government customer.
The two firms have four satellites in orbit with Yahsat’s first satellite launched from the European Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, in 2011.
The second satellite was launched from the Baikonor Kosmodrome in Kazakhstan in April 2012.
EIAST launched DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2, the UAE’s first Earth observation satellites, in 2009 and 2012.
The DubaiSat-1 and 2 satellites were designed and developed by South Korea’s Satrec satellite manufacturing company.
EIAST is working on launching the first 100 percent Emirati-made satellite by 2017.
Named Khalifa Sat, the first Arab-made satellite will be entirely manufactured by experts from the UAE.
“Our doors will remain open for cooperation with all Arab countries in space technology and engineering,” Sheikh Mohammed said at the time.
“We are extremely delighted at seeing sons and daughters of the UAE forming the first Arab team to build a satellite and launch it into outer space in 2017. … Our confidence in them is boundless and our ambitions are the sky’s the limit and success comes from Allah.”
At EIAST, a national team of 45 engineers and experts are establishing advanced facilities and high-tech laboratories for building a humidity and dust-proof satellite.■