UAE to build new space research centre in Al Ain
The United Arab Emirates is to build a new space research centre in Al Ain, which will act as an incubator for development and innovation for its planned unmanned mission to Mars.
The news came as the UAE officially launched its new space agency on the eve of the fifth Global Space and Satellite Forum in Abu Dhabi.
The launch event was attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The new space centre forms part of the UAE Vision 2021 plan, which is aimed at establishing the country as one of the world’s leading space nations in time for the UAE’s Golden Jubilee that will mark the founding of the nation.
The UAE Space Agency’s director general, Dr. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, said: "The UAE Space Agency’s focus on human development will be a true pillar of future progress.”
He said the centre, which will cost nearly AED 100 million over five years, will act as an incubator for space research and innovation at the federal level.
It will offer space projects, research and development and will serve university students as well as space operators, Al Ahbabi added.
The new development, which will form part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (formerly the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology – EIAST), will help enable the UAE's ambitious space plans, which include its unmanned “Hope” Mars probe, due to be launched by July 2020, the launch of KhalifaSat targeted for 2017, and a cubesat mission called Nayif-1, which is scheduled to be launched by the end of this year.
Sheikh Mohammed also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to launch a new graduate degree programme in advanced space science for the first time in the Middle East.
The MoU was signed by the Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat), the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and Orbital ATK.
The new space agency said it will also select 15 gifted students as an academic delegation to travel both within the UAE and overseas.
The UAE Space Agency’s new strategic plan is to develop and guide a world-class national space sector that serves the country’s highest interests, contributes to a diversified national economy and supports sustainable development.
It will also promote scientific research and innovation to support the state’s scientific progress in space sciences and technologies and attract and promote its people to become scientists and technology pioneers.
Monday's announcement launched three days of space-related activities, with the Global Space and Satellite Forum taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday at the ADNEC in Abu Dhabi.
Tuesday saw a host of prominent space dignitaries gather for a range of panel sessions and presentations. These included Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin (pictured), Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi and Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides.
Speaking about the launch of the UAE Space Agency, Aldrin said: “John F Kennedy's announcement that the US was to go to the moon spawned a massive increase in the number of people wishing to study science, technology and mathematics in the 1960s.
“I congratulate the UAE on launching its own space agency and hope that it too inspires the next generation of space professionals in the country.”
The Global Space and Satellite Forum 2015 continues on Wednesday.