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Sheikh Mohammed announces plans to build new satellite in Dubai

Sheikh Mohammed announces plans to build new satellite in Dubai

Expected to launch in 2023, the MBZ-SAT will be the second satellite to be built by an all-Emirati team

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has announced plans to build a new satellite, called the MBZ-SAT, which will become the second such satellite to be built by an all-Emirati team

It will be developed at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai, and is expected to be launched in 2023.

“We have chosen the name MBZ-SAT for the new satellite, which will be designed and developed by Emirati competencies and bear the initials of my brother Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

MBZ-SAT will be built to provide high-resolution satellite imagery intended for commercial use and is capable of showing details within an area of less than one square meter.

It is the fourth Earth observation satellite developed and launched by MBRSC, where an all-Emirati team will work on developing the new satellite at the its laboratories.

The centre will also collaborate with local companies within the space sector, to manufacture and supply the components of MBZ-SAT.

After launching it into low earth orbit, the ground station team at MBRSC will analyse the data received from it, and provide high-resolution data and images to local and international entities.

The imagery provided can serve to benefit several fields including mapping and analysis, environmental monitoring, navigation, infrastructure management and disaster relief efforts.

The 3m x 5m satellite will weigh around 700 kg and will improve image capture resolution by more than double what is capable in the previously launched system. It will also increase the downlink data transmission speed by thrice the current capacity. The fully automated image scheduling and processing system of MBZ-SAT will also be able to produce more than 10 times the images the centre currently produces.

Commercial and government entities will be able to place an order online for high-res imaging round the clock. The image processing and downloads can be completed in less than two hours from receiving the request, depending on the satellite’s location.

The MBZ-SAT will be the first satellite capable of detecting a larger number of man-made as well as natural elements with a higher rate of precision and resolution, as compared to the current range of Earth observation satellites. Also, the raw data gathered by the new satellite’s system will be able to process better AI functionality that can assist in quicker analysis and processing of satellite imagery.

Over the last decade, MBRSC has been providing detailed, high resolution satellite images captured through satellites including DubaiSat-1, DubaiSat-2 and KhalifaSat.

KhalifaSat was launched into space in October 2018, and was the first satellite to be designed and developed in the UAE by an all-Emirati team, becoming the first satellite to be developed in the Arab world.

“Our highly capable team at MBRSC has always been at the forefront of taking on big challenges – from building the UAE’s first satellite, to working on the first Arab interplanetary mission and now the MBZ-SAT. The new mission will further extend the position of MBRSC as a pioneer in the region’s space sector and expand our abilities to serve a more global client base. It is also key to further cementing the UAE’s position as a competitive player in the global space industry,” said Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, director general at MBRSC.

“The image capture enhancements planned for the MBZ-SAT will help to set a whole new standard for commercial satellite imagery. MBRSC will be in the unique position to become one of the few countries worldwide capable of developing such advanced technologies. In addition to providing a comprehensive source of high-resolution satellite images, we will also have a dedicated team within the Centre who can analyse the collected data,” said Engineer Amer AlGhafri, senior director of the Space Engineering Department and Project Manager of MBZ-SAT at MBRSC.

The UAE has made rapid advancements in the space sector over the last few years. In July, the UAE’s Hope Probe lifted off from Japan in the Arab world’s first mission to Mars. The culmination of a six-year effort of 200 Emirati engineers and researchers it is expected to enter the red planet’s orbit in February 2021.

Read: UAE Hope Probe: To Mars and beyond

Last month, the country announced plans to launch the first-ever Arab mission to the moon. The Emirates Lunar Mission will oversee a locally-built explorer land on the moon’s surface in 2024.

Read also: UAE launches new mission to land on the moon by 2024

In September, the UAE also launched the MeznSat satellite, developed by students from the Khalifa University and the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK).

The MeznSat is a 3U CubeSat built to detect Greenhouse Gas (GHG) concentrations, and will encourage advanced and locally relevant space-oriented research.

Read more: UAE’s MeznSat satellite all set to launch from Russia

Plans are also afoot in the country to launch two more satellites, including a navigation satellite in 2021.

Read: UAE prepares to launch navigation satellite in 2021

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