While the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is small in population and geography, its ambitious efforts to make headway in space is turning head. According to Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, the country’s efforts to strengthen space exploration, improve scientific research and expand our horizons has already produced positive results, even though the program is extremely young.
The UAE’s space program really began in earnest only 7 years ago when the first government owned satellite was launched into orbit in 2009. Since then, the country has engaged in a number of projects, initiatives and organizations to improve space exploration.
First, the country established a few research centers to study space. In Abu Dhabi, the Khalifa University Space lab was established as well as the Astronautic and Celestial Emulation lab. This center has unmanned and aerial vehicles that are tested in environments similar to those found in space. There was also a recent announcement of the Space Research Centre that will be built out over the next 5 years at a cost of $100 million dirham. The centre in Al Ain will act as an incubator for all federal research.
The country also established Yahsat to coordinate ongoing satellite missions in space. Similarly, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre helps to promote and plan satellite launches into space.
In 2014, it established the UAE Space Agency to coordinate all of these efforts and drive the exploration even further. Its goal is to promote research and development of the space sector. It organizes and regulates launches and missions as well. Lastly, it forms partnerships with other organizations to further UAE space organizations.
One of the biggest goals of the agency is to drive the 2020 unmanned mission to Mars. This extremely ambitious effort could help the UAE leap frog other places around the world to become a leading space center. It even gained acceptance into the International Space Exploration Coordination Group with other major countries and is the first Arab country to join.
Overall, the UAE has made tremendous strides into the areas of space exploration and research. Only time will tell if they can reach their ambitious goals. However, the rest of the world has offered support, cooperation and partnership to the UAE in hopes of seeing the nation achieve its goals.