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DubaiSat-2 satellite will carry Expo 2020 logo into orbit

Final preparations have begun ahead of the launch of Dubai Sat-2, which is expected to blast into orbit before the end of the year.

DUBAI // As if confidence that Dubai will host Expo 2020 weren’t already sky high, now the bid is going into orbit.

The Expo 2020 logo will be emblazoned on the side of the launch rocket that takes DubaiSat-2 into space.

The satellite, which has been in development since 2009, has been moved to the Yasny launch base in Russia as the final countdown begins for a launch before the end of the year.

It will share a Dnepr-1 rocket with about 20 other satellites, including three that are several times the size of DubaiSat-2.

The vote on the Expo host city takes place in Paris on November 27 and Salem al Marri, project manager for the space programme at Emirates Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, hopes the satellite launch will be before that.

“We know it’s going to be pretty soon,” he said. “We’re targeting before the end of the year. There’s a few things we need to confirm.

“Once we’ve done that by the end of the week, we will be able to surely say an accurate date.”

Yousuf Al Shaibani, director general of the institute, said the logo on the rocket was a sign of the confidence of Dubai’s chances.

“The UAE’s chances of winning the bid are strong, supported by a solid economy, a multicultural social fabric and strategic location, as well as a state-of-the-art infrastructure, remarkable logistics capabilities and extensive expertise in organising world-class events,” he said.

Basic design work on DubaiSat-2 began even before its predecessor, DubaiSat-1, was launched in 2009.

It is equipped with a higher resolution camera that can spot travelling cars, make out details on buildings and read logos on aircraft waiting on runways.

Whereas DubaiSat-1 has been used for wider environmental monitoring, DubaiSat-2 will have greater use in urban planning.

The design and manufacture of the satellite was carried out in Seoul, South Korea, under a skills transfer arrangement between the institute and Satrec, the South Korean satellite company.

Fully 50 per cent of the work on DubaiSat-2 was conducted by Emirati engineers and it is hoped its successor, DubaiSat-3, will be built on home soil, solely by Emirati scientists.

Mr Al Shaibani said a key goal of the satellite projects has been fostering local expertise.

“DubaiSat-2 project complements the second stage of the plan set by EIAST to build an integrated team of Emirati engineers through the development of our human resources to ultimately promote the UAE’s leading position as an international destination for space technology,” he said.

“Over the past five years, our team of engineers has developed DubaiSat-2 under the supervision of our strategic partner Satrec Initiative. This alliance offers the opportunity to leverage expertise in space technology and boost national competencies in the hope of manufacturing satellites within the homeland soon.”

mcroucher@thenational.ae

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