Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 September 2020


UAE partners with Airbus to launch satellite testing and assembly centre

The new facility is set to commence operations next year and will create 32 jobs

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, inspects KhalifaSat in February 2018, eight months before its successful launch. Courtesy: Wam  
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, inspects KhalifaSat in February 2018, eight months before its successful launch. Courtesy: Wam  

The UAE's flourishing space sector is taking another leap forward as a satellite testing and assembly centre is prepared for launch in Al Ain.

Tawazun Economic Council has joined forces with major airline and aerospace manufacturer Airbus and the National Space Science and Technology Centre (NSSTC), at UAE and University, to drive forward plans to begin operations at the centre early next year.

The project will create 32 jobs, with 22 of the new employees to be Emirati.

Workers will receive training at Airbus facilities in France as well as locally.

The partnership was formed by Tawazun, a body which was was founded in 1992 to help develop a sustainable defence and security industry in the UAE.

"This is our second project after Yahsat, and there are many more projects to come, as Tawazun works to further develop the UAE space sector," said Matar Ali Al Romaithi, chief economic development officer for Tawazun.

"The UAE is building and acquiring the knowledge required to become a regional hub for space activities and advanced research and development.

"This centre is an integral part of those plans and consequently Tawazun has worked to make sure that it operates as a sustainable resource for the next five to seven years with a view to becoming permanent.

"We also value the significant contribution that Airbus is making to the Centre’s sustainability, as well as to the increase and development of our Emirati resource and expertise. NSSTC will accumulate critical knowledge from Airbus through this project, and our national competencies and skills will increase significantly."

The UAE successfully launched KhalifaSat, the first satellite designed, tested and manufactured entirely by Emirati engineers, from Japan in October, 2018.

This week, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre released new high-resolution images of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, captured by KhalifaSat.

The UAE's space sector has enjoyed remarkable success in recent years, with the launch of KhalifaSat followed by the country's first astronaut, Hazza Al Mansouri, travelling aboard the International Space Centre last September.

Only last month, the Hope probe began its milestone mission to Mars.

The Satellite Assembly, Integration and Testing Centre will develop and build communication, navigation and hyperspectral satellites ranging in size between 50 and 250 kilogrammes.

It will be based at the NSSTC site in Al Ain, with Airbus supporting the design, outfitting and commissioning of the facility.

Airbus will also manage the procurement, installation and operational qualification required for the equipment.

Airbus has pledged to play a leading role in bolstering the UAE aerospace industry.

"The space industry is an important and strategic sector for the UAE, as it enables the development of high-level skills and drives innovation," said Mikail Houari, president of the Mena region for Airbus.

"Airbus remains committed to supporting the advancement of all key elements of the UAE’s aerospace industry. For many years, we have worked closely in partnership with the nation’s leading industrial entities to help create new technological solutions and provide global expertise and experience to local talent."

The growing UAE space sector has provided 3,000 jobs at 50 space related entities, five space research and development centres and three universities offering space degrees.

"This is in line with the vision of the UAE government, achieving the goals of the national agenda through the implementation of contemporary, sustainable developmental projects," said Saeed Ahmed Ghobash, chancellor of UAE University.

The NSSTC was created by the UAE University alongside the UAE Space Agency.

"UAE University possesses distinctive scientific and technical capabilities that enable it to keep abreast of global trends in applied scientific research, the fourth industrial revolution, the requirements of artificial intelligence, and space science and technology. The university’s work contributes to the development of a knowledge and digital based economy."

The UAE Space Agency is funding the first two projects that will be completed under the management and operation of NSSTC.

The first will be a satellite that will augment navigational capabilities for the UAE and the second will be the Arab 813 Satellite.

Both projects are currently underway with the support of Airbus and will be completed at the new facilities.

Updated: August 5, 2020 05:02 PM

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