Just one small step…
A group of UAE nationals are emerging as leaders in space, thanks to a programme developed by the UAE Space Agency, Mubadala, and Lockheed Martin. Marcelle Nethersole reports.
The UAE’s vision for its 50th national anniversary is to be a leading space sciences nation and to reach Mars.
That’s according to Dr Khalifa Al Romaithi, chairman of the UAE Space Agency, who said that the national space sector policy stems from that leadership vision.
And, already, a group of young UAE nationals are emerging as leaders in the UAE space industry, thanks to a space-based workforce-training programme developed earlier this year by the UAE Space Agency, Lockheed Martin, and Mubadala.
Generation space: the space fundamentals training programme, was produced for early career professionals across the UAE aerospace industry.
The programme runs for four months and includes training in the UAE and the US.
Beginning in the UAE, the training is in ‘space foundations’ and moves into more technical topics, covering more than 200 hours of coursework. Participants will also complete mentor-guided research projects.
Courses will cover technical topics like ‘Satellite 101’, as well as leadership skills and business acumen.
By the time Arabian Aerospace went to press, participants had wrapped up the first phase of programme, based at the UAE Center for Innovation & Security Solutions in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, and were in the US to complete the final project phase. This is hosted by Lockheed Martin and immerses participants in the US space industry.
“In addition to attending NASA’s OSIRIS-REx launch in Cape Canaveral, Florida, participants are shadowing US space professionals, touring Lockheed Martin’s virtual reality engineering lab, and seeing satellite production facilities,” said Kara Schoeffling, head of communications Middle East, Lockheed Martin.
The end goal for the students, as well as the UAE Space Agency, is to develop a pipeline for the UAE’s space talent and support the overall aerospace educational eco-system in the UAE.
Al Romaithi said: “This latest initiative represents and realises the long-term strategic vision of the UAE Space Agency, which seeks to bring together Emirati stakeholders, as well as maximising international cooperation in the space sector. Furthermore, we are committed to instilling a sound scientific understanding among up-and-coming Emiratis as part of our efforts to develop a knowledge-based economy.”
Both Mubadala and Lockheed Martin were keen to support the UAE Space Agency and the future space students from the UAE.
“Mubadala is proud to be a part of generation space, which will provide the UAE’s next generation with hands-on experience across the UAE and US space industries,” said Homaid Al Shimmari, chief executive officer of aerospace and engineering services at Mubadala. “The future strength of the UAE’s aerospace industry depends on the development and innovation of the young professionals who will lead our country into space for the benefit of the people of the Emirates.”
Schoeffling added that Lockheed Martin admires the UAE’s space ambitions.
She said: “In line with the UAE’s national vision, the programme was developed as part of Lockheed Martin’s growing collaboration with the UAE Space Agency. We want to support its growth by collaborating to develop tomorrow’s Emirati leaders for future careers. The programme supports the UAE’s strategic vision to create an indigenous talent pipeline of students and young professionals inspired towards long-term careers in the field of space.”
The UAE’s mission to Mars programme is the first by an Arab, Islamic country.
It will be one of only nine countries with ambitions to explore Mars and the unmanned probe, named Hope, will travel more than 60 million kilometres in nine months to coincide with the UAE’s 50th anniversary in 2021.
So, will any of these students one day help the UAE reach the Red Planet? Watch this space…