x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE's first satellite in orbit

The UAE's first government satellite, DubaiSat-1, is currently circling the globe after a successful launch from Kazakhstan.

ABU DHABI // The UAE's first government satellite, DubaiSat-1, is currently circling the globe after a successful overnight launch today from Kazakhstan. Audrey Nice, spokesperson for Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), which is also using the Dnepr-1 rocket to launch a separate satellite confirmed that the launch sequence was "seamless". "The rocket lifted off at 00.46 [local time]. Everything went according to plan. All the satellites separated successfully and they are all currently in orbit. "The launch went very well. It was an absolutely seamless launch." She added the satellites' receiver stations would now begin a process known as "acquisition," where they would establish contact with the satellites. Nobody from the Dubai-based Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST), which managed the Dh184 million (US$50 million) project was available to confirm the launch was successful. And the spokesman from Asda'a, the organisation's public relations company, could not be reached. The satellite will use a high-resolution camera to photograph the region; the images will be beamed back to the UAE for use in urban planning and disaster relief. Experts say that in its low-altitude orbit, it should be visible to the naked eye and resemble a moving star. Anxious Emirati engineers were gathered at a viewing station at the cosmodrome to watch the 200kg remote sensing satellite lift off. The spacecraft was one of several attached to a modified Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. Once it reaches orbit, the satellite's orientation and communications systems will power up and test images will be sent back using a high-bandwidth radio transmitter. Within days, the hexagonal satellite, which measures a little more than a metre across, should be fully operational. "With the launch of DubaiSat-1, the UAE joins a league of nations that have made strong inroads in space research and technology," Mohammed al Ghanim, the chairman of the EIAST board, said in May. chamilton@thenational.ae