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Saudi Arabia to launch indigenous satellites over 12 years

Ambitious plan aims to explore outer space, upgrade communications technologies and advance scientific research

Saudi Arabia plans to launch six locally made satellites into space over the next 12 years following a successful launch of its thirteenth satellite (Saudisat-4) in mid-2014 from a Russian launch base in Yasny.

The ambitious plan aims to explore outer space, upgrade communications technologies and advance scientific research, according to Prince Turki Bin Saud Bin Mohammed, president of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), the body that handles the program.

Prince Turki explains that a Saudi satellite will be launched every two years in the coming 12 years, adding that work is underway on a program to develop high-tech and small satellites in cooperation with NASA, the German Aerospace Centre and Stanford University.

In remarks published by Al-Sharq al-Awsat, the prince said the Saudi government exerted tremendous efforts to transfer technological know-how in space science and initiated a satellite program to develop a space industry in the kingdom.

He noted that the kingdom has launched 13 satellites since 2000 for the purposes of communications, space sciences and remote sending.