Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Illustration of the Eiast DubaiSat satellites. The launch of the second satellite would mark the culmination of training for 22 Emirati engineers who have been based in South Korea since 2005.
Illustration of the Eiast DubaiSat satellites. The launch of the second satellite would mark the culmination of training for 22 Emirati engineers who have been based in South Korea since 2005.

Next satellite wholly home-grown

The Emirates Institute for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) wants their next satellite to be built on home ground.

DUBAI // More than a year before the emirate launches its second satellite into space, officials have announced any future satellites will be built entirely in the UAE.

DubaiSat-2 is not scheduled to launch until the end of next year, but scientists at the Emirates Institute for Advanced Science and Technology (Eiast) have already entered the planning stages for DubaiSat-3.

That satellite, scheduled to be shot into orbit in 2015, will be built by Emiratis entirely on home soil.

The launch would mark the culmination of training for 22 Emirati engineers who have been based in South Korea since 2005, working on DubaiSat-1 and 2.

"Our engineers have been working for a long time on different satellites," said Salem Al Marri, the project manager of the space programme at Eiast.

"Every time our participation has increased. Now it's time for us to build our own satellites and utilise the manpower that we have."

Mr Al Marri said building the satellite, the latest of which weighs 300 kilograms, would require only a large room and a crane to lift the machine.

But a testing facility, which vigorously shakes a flight model of the satellite to simulate launch conditions, would be needed and could cost about US$10 million (Dh36.7m).

Mr Al Marri said Eiast would initially look overseas for help during that stage of development.

"These facilities are huge and they're the same things you would use to test cars or aeroplane parts," he said.

"If you have big industries in your country, then it's usually feasible to develop them.

"In the UAE, this is a long-term plan. Until we develop those facilities, we'd have to go abroad and use those facilities in other countries."

DubaiSat-1 was launched in 2009 from a Soviet-era military base in Kazakhstan. It cost $50m and took four years of work by Emirati engineers and those from the South Korean company Satrec1.

The first satellite was based on a generic design and had a resolution of 2.5 metres per pixel. DubaiSat-2 has a resolution of 1 metre, making it able to pinpoint cars on streets or read logos on the side of aeroplanes parked on a runway.

It will also travel faster than DubaiSat-1, covering 17,000 square metres a day rather than 12,000 metres.

The design of the satellite is unique and is the intellectual property of Eiast and Satrec1.

The higher resolution was at the request of government agencies who say the images could be used in town planning.

Mr Al Marri said it had not yet been determined what upgrades DubaiSat-3 would have.

"There will be an improvement, but not necessarily in terms of resolution," he said. "It could mean that we can store and download more images per day, with the same resolution.

"Or it could mean that we could generate and store more power so the satellite lasts longer in space."

The investment in satellite technology is part of an effort by the Government to diversify the economy away from oil.

The Government holds a large stake in Virgin Galactic, the commercial space flight firm, and this year Yahsat, the country's first communications satellite, entered orbit.

Pioneering satellite technologies can be costly and time-consuming, as it requires additional testing to ensure the new components are spaceworthy.

But Mr Al Marri said Eiast was not entirely a commercial venture. He said one of its ambitions was to establish the Emirates as a leader in the field.

"We want to keep advancing," he said. "Our goal is to put the UAE at the forefront of these advanced technologies."

mcroucher@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Shah Rukh Khan performs at the IPL Gala dinner to open IPL VII at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi.

In pictures: Shah Rukh Khan stars at IPL Gala dinner in Abu Dhabi

The superstar entertainer Shah Rukh Khan on stage last night at a gala dinner to launch the Indian Premier League cricket tournament.

No words can describe this April 17, your captions will

Have a catchy caption for this picture. Share it with us and we might publish it and reward you.

 When this 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp goes under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on June 17, it is expected to attract a world record bid for a single stamp of up to $20 million (Dh73.4m). Courtesy Sotheby’s

Rare 1856 stamp up for auction at Sotheby’s

This is one of the world’s rarest stamps and when it goes up for auction in June it should fetch $20million. Its history since it was issued in 1856 is fascinating – and includes one murderous chapter, as Jonathan Gornall reports

 The Retreat at the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa will screen IPL games on request. Lee Hoagland / The National

Top five places to catch an IPL game in the UAE

Enjoy all the 20/20 cricket action at a sports lounge near you – whether in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain or Dubai

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Barcelona’s Lionel Messi plays with a rugby ball during a training session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training camp, near Barcelona in Sant Joan Despi, April 15, 2014. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

In pictures: Barca play a little rugby before Copa del rey final

Barcelona and Real Madrid will play in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday night but the day before the match, Braca players played a little rugby during a training session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training camp, in Sant Joan Despi, Spain. Barca meet Real Madrid on Wednesday at 11.30pm (UAE time) and the match will be on BeIn Sports.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National