UAE Space Agency invites private sector to join Emirates Mission to Asteroid Belt
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UAE Space Agency invites private sector to join Emirates Mission to Asteroid Belt

UAE Space Agency invites private sector to join Emirates Mission to Asteroid Belt

This comes as a result of the agency’s commitment to award at least 50 per cent of the overall contracted mission to private sector companies

UAE Space Agency

The UAE Space Agency has launched the “Space Means Business” campaign to highlight the new business opportunities open to Emirati and international companies within the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt (EMA), the first multiple-asteroid tour and landing mission to the main belt.

This comes as a result of the agency’s commitment to award at least 50 per cent of the overall contracted mission to private sector companies.

The campaign is set to kick off with a workshop hosted at the UAE Space Agency on June 22 to outline the potential areas for private sector participation.

Sarah Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology and chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, said: “Through our work with the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, we can identify several technologically advanced companies operating in the Emirates today who can make commercially viable contributions to the EMA and benefit from the wider UAE space sector opportunity.

Our core goal here is to drive new business opportunities based around sustainable innovation and the development of heritage that will open up new opportunities in the $1tn global space industry.”

EMA programme director Mohsen Al Awadhi commented: “From software development to mission control, we are committed to a private sector first approach to developing the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt.

This campaign to recruit businesses to the Mission forms part of a long-term commitment to diving an ambitious, vibrant and fast-growing private space sector in the Emirates.

The opportunities are truly endless, from software and hardware systems design and delivery through to subsystem assembly, solar power and other electrical systems development to Mission operations and management.”

The Space Means Business workshop is the start of an ongoing campaign to help UAE-based businesses identify the immediate commercial opportunities offered by the EMA and share a roadmap for the continuing support and development of research, innovation and valuable heritage to provide participants with the fast-growing global space market.

The UAE National Space Strategy supports the provision of startup and investment funds, providing spacecraft assembly integration and test (AIT) facilities as a service and mission operations as a service to support and encourage startups and innovation. Additionally, the UAE Space Agency is offering Emirati space startups business formation support, zero barriers to entry office and back-office facilities and ongoing mentoring and funding as part of its Space Economic Zones initiative.

The development of the EMA is supported by Space Academy, a UAE Space Agency-led apprenticeship programme for the UAE’s space sector that expedites the development of engineering, technical and innovation expertise across several national institutions.

The EMA comprises a thirteen-year mission – a six-year spacecraft development period followed by a seven-year flight to the main asteroid belt beyond Mars, performing a series of close flybys to make unique observations of seven main-belt asteroids, including a rendezvous with the puzzling spectrally red asteroid, (269) Justitia.

The mission builds on the learnings, capabilities, innovations and heritage of the EMA. It aims to further accelerate the development of the Emirates’ private space sector and national capabilities in advanced technology innovation.

The Mission’s spacecraft is named the MBR Explorer in recognition of the foundational role driving the creation and growth of the UAE Space Programme by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

Read: UAE announces space mission: MBR Explorer to tour asteroid belt

The MBR Explorer’s five-billion-kilometre journey includes gravity-assist manoeuvres around Venus, Earth and Mars to change the spacecraft’s velocity and support its flyby campaign, with its first asteroid encounter in February 2030.

Subsequent flybys will occur through to 2034, when the Mission’s seventh asteroid encounter will involve a rendezvous and landing, with the spacecraft releasing a lander, which will beam science data up from the asteroid’s surface. An Emirati private space sector start-up will develop the lander.

The EMA will build a greater understanding of asteroid characteristics, origins, formation and evolution. It has the potential to open new windows into our understanding of the formation of our solar system, as well as to investigate the potential of water-rich asteroids as a usable resource and evaluate the presence of volatile and organic compounds in the asteroid belt – the building blocks of life on Earth.

Read: UAE Space Agency signs strategic agreement with AWS

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