UAE Plans Launch of Powerful Satellite MBZ-Sat in 2024

The UAE is making preparations to launch the most advanced imaging satellite in the region, MBZ-Sat, in 2024. Developed by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai, this 800-kilogram satellite will be launched into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket as part of a SpaceX ride-share mission. The satellite aims to significantly enhance the UAE's environmental monitoring capabilities and support agricultural development.

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Development and Objectives of MBZ-Sat

MBZ-Sat, named after President Sheikh Mohamed, has been in development at the MBRSC for several years. The satellite represents a significant milestone for the UAE's space sector, following the launch of their first Earth observation satellite 14 years ago. The primary objective of MBZ-Sat is to become the most advanced, high-accuracy, and high-resolution imaging satellite in the region. It will monitor environmental changes, improve water quality, and aid in agricultural development, aligning with the UAE's environmental strategies.

Strengthening the Domestic Space Industry

MBRSC aims to support the domestic space industry through the MBZ-Sat mission. A considerable portion of the satellite's mechanical and electronic modules, 90% and 50%, respectively, are built in the UAE. Collaborations with private enterprises, including Strata, EPI, Rockford Xellerix, Halcon, and Falcon Group, have been established to manufacture different components of the satellite. This approach contributes to the growth and capabilities of the UAE's space industry.

Enhanced Capabilities of MBZ-Sat

MBZ-Sat is anticipated to be three times more powerful than KhalifaSat, another Emirati-built satellite currently in operation. It features a fully automated image scheduling and processing system, enabling it to produce ten times more images compared to the existing capabilities of the space centre. Additionally, the downlink data transmission speed will be three times faster, enhancing data collection and analysis.

Collaborations and Sustainable Practices

Collaborative efforts with Strata Manufacturing, Falcon, and Rockford Xellerix are key to the development of MBZ-Sat. Strata is responsible for the satellite's structure, Falcon is involved in mechanical elements, and Rockford Xellerix focuses on cabling harness development. Notably, the aluminium used in MBZ-Sat is the first globally-produced aluminium using solar power, developed in partnership with Emirates Global Aluminum and Gulf Extrusions. These sustainable practices showcase the UAE's commitment to environmental preservation.

Building Skills and Boosting the Private Space Sector

The UAE's experience with previous satellite projects, such as DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2, has helped MBRSC engineers gain the necessary skills for domestic satellite development. Additionally, there is a growing focus on boosting the private space sector in the country. Government agencies like MBRSC and the UAE Space Agency are actively attracting more companies to participate in space projects. The UAE Space Agency has launched a significant fund to support start-ups and medium-sized businesses, while dedicated economic zones for space-related activities are being established to facilitate operations.

In conclusion, the upcoming launch of MBZ-Sat represents a significant milestone for the UAE's space sector. With its advanced imaging capabilities and focus on environmental monitoring and agricultural development, MBZ-Sat showcases the UAE's commitment to technological advancement and sustainable practises. Furthermore, collaborations with private enterprises and efforts to boost the private space sector demonstrate the UAE's ambition to become a leader in space exploration and innovation.

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