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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

What is next for KhalifaSat?

The UAE's most sophisticated satellite will help in the battle against climate change

KhalifaSat launches successfully into orbit on Monday. Courtesy Dubai Media Office
KhalifaSat launches successfully into orbit on Monday. Courtesy Dubai Media Office

KhalifaSat has successfully launched into space in a groundbreaking moment for scientific research in the UAE.

The satellite will now remain in Low Earth Orbit for five years, taking high quality imagery of the ground below to relay to Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.

These images, of any location on the planet, will be available to the UAE government and a number of approved commercial entities both locally and internationally.

KhalifaSat’s high resolution imagery will be used for a range of purposes including urban planning, area classification, monitoring environmental change and helping relief efforts during natural disasters.

Images will be used to help develop detailed maps of selected areas and also allow major engineering and construction projects to be monitored.

KhalifaSat will also be extensively used in the field of environmental protection where it will be utilised both locally and internationally in efforts to preserve the environment.

It is expected to provide detailed imagery of the ice caps in both the North and South Poles to detect the impact of global warming.

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Charles Bolden, a former Nasa astronaut who famously piloted the Columbia mission in 1986 as well as the Discovery shuttle that deployed the Hubble telescope in 1990, said the launch of KhalifaSat was a milestone for the country.

“It’s going to play a big role when we fit it in to the other constellation of Earth observing satellites from other nations,” he said.

“KhalifaSat will be one more link in the chain of helping us understand our environment by looking at the effects that temperature increases are causing on the increased severity of weather.

“It’s an incredible satellite that’s going to help us with water resources management, crop development in the region as well as around the world.”

Mr Bolden, who was the Nasa administrator from 2009 until 2017 and now acts as a special space envoy, said that KhalifaSat will make a significant impact on the agricultural industry.

“It will make contributions to farmers and government officials trying to decide how we deal with disasters and the like for years to come,” he said.

KhalifaSat is now the third UAE observation satellite to enter orbit. However, Mr Bolden said it was far more advanced than previous projects.

“KhalifaSat is looking at our world in a more advanced way than DubaiSat1 or DubaiSat2,” he said.

The satellite shell of KhalifaSat is measured at just under two metres in height and less than 1.5 metres in diameter. The total mass of the spacecraft is estimated to be around 330kg.