Late last month, the UAE witnessed a historic event: the launch of the first 100% Emirati-developed satellite. Dubbed the KhalifaSat after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, it was launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan, aboard the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Rocket H-IIA rocket.
Now, a week post-launch, the satellite has relayed back its first-ever captured image, and it’s a symbolic one.
The picture depicts Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah Island, an iconic man-made construction marvel. It was shared on Twitter this Monday by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), the organization behind KhalifaSat.
The KhalifaSat is only the start of the UAE’s space efforts – they are not stopping there.
UAE ambitions go beyond Earth and into outer space
In 2014, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued a decree establishing the UAE Space Agency, and with it, the launch of the Emirates Mars Mission project (also known as the Hope Mars Mission). This initiated work on developing the first Arabic probe to be sent to Mars, and the Middle East’s first serious effort towards interplanetary exploration.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had said: “We chose the epic challenge of reaching Mars because epic challenges inspire us and motivate us. The moment we stop taking on such challenges is the moment we stop moving forward.”
The MBRSC is currently building the Hope Probe, and expects to launch it in 2020, with a nine-month journey and estimated arrival by 2021. This coincides with the 50th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates’ formation.
Cutting-edge, UAE technology
According to the MBRSC, the KhalifaSat is one of the most technologically advanced remote-sensing observation satellites, with five patents registered.
The images provided by the satellite will be used in urban planning and management, ensuring the effective optimisation of land use and realistic infrastructure proposals. The images will also be used to develop detailed maps of targeted areas and monitor major engineering and construction projects.
In the field of environmental protection, KhalifaSat will monitor environmental changes locally and internationally to support global efforts to preserve the environment. The satellite is also expected to provide detailed imagery of the ice caps at the North and South Poles, helping to detect the effects of global warming.
Like the KhalifaSat, the Hope Probe will also be fully engineered and developed by UAE scientists and professionals.