DubaiSat-2 imaging satellite ready for blast off
A second imaging satellite is scheduled to start beaming high-resolution pictures of the UAE from outer space by the end of next year.
A contract was announced yesterday between the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) and a Russian space company, to launch DubaiSat-2 from Yasny Cosmodrome in northern Russia
International Space Company Kosmotras (ISCK), based in Moscow, also launched DubaiSat-1 in July 2009.
The new satellite will orbit slightly closer to Earth and at a faster speed than the older model, said Salem al Marri, the director of EIAST's space programme department. It will also incline at an angle aligned with the UAE's coastline to capture more pictures in one path.
"This will give us a slight advantage coming over Dubai at a faster time because we can make more orbits, and the resolution of the images would improve, at least marginally," Mr al Marri said. "The design is customised to our own requirements and the UAE map."
The satellites provide a window for engineers to download important image data used for purposes including urban planning and monitoring shoreline erosion.
DubaiSat-1 passes over the UAE four or five times a day, but only for a brief period each time.
"We are confident of a successful launch for DubaiSat-2 next year, which will further establish the UAE's presence in the global space sector," Ahmed al Mansoori, the director general of Eiast, said in a statement.
While only about 30 per cent of the previous satellite was built by Emiratis, UAE engineers are responsible for about half of the DubaiSat-2's design, with South Korean company Satrec1.
"Where DubaiSat-1 was a replica of an existing design, this is a totally brand new satellite that we've designed from scratch and custom made," Mr al Marri said.
"We can say confidently that we've designed and manufactured at least 50 per cent of this satellite, which is the next step toward developing our own satellite in Dubai in the next five years."
Eiast has started on the specifications for its third satellite, DubaiSat-3.
DubaiSat-2 will orbit 600km above Earth, compared with the 685km orbit by its predecessor. Weighing a third more at 300kg, the new satellite may be able to download up to seven times more data than DubaiSat-1. That will allow greater flexibility for commercialising its applications, Mr al Marri said.
"If a certain percentage of the images we take now are for research or university and government projects, we can only designate a certain amount for commercialisation locally and internationally," he said. "This will give us a greater capacity for various applications."
The new satellite will also travel from north to south, in the opposite direction from DubaiSat-1, for better use of the sun's light.
DubaiSat-2 will be launched aboard a Dnepr Rocket as part of a clustered launch by the fourth quarter of next year, organisers said.