UAE and US Mars Missions to Collaborate on Science Data Analysis

An artist’s impression of the United Arab Emirates’ Hope spacecraft in orbit around Mars, where it will arrive in February 2021 after launching in July from Japan. (Credit: MBRSC)

DUBAI, April 12, 2022 (UAE Government Media Office) — The Emirates Mars Mission, the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, has finalised a science data analysis collaboration initiative with NASA’s MAVEN Mars Mission, which will pave the way towards greater scientific collaboration and data exchange between the two missions.

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Report: UAE Working with Blue Origin to Establish Spaceport, Ends Agreement with Virgin Galactic

New Shepard takes off with six passengers on Dec. 11, 2021. (Credit: Blue Origin website)

At the end of a long article about the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) efforts to develop a virbrant space industry, The National revealed this bit of news from Ibrahim Al Qasim, deputy director general of the UAE Space Agency.

Mr Al Qasim revealed to The National that the agreement that was signed in 2019 with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to bring space tourism flights to Al Ain Airport is no longer in effect, without explaining further.

Instead, the country is now working with Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin to set up spaceports.

He said discussions with the company, which has already flown 20 people on its suborbital flights, are under way.

Any agreement to fly Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle would be dependent upon a technology safeguards agreement between the UAE and the United States. An agreement with New Zealand allows Rocket Lab to launch Electron rockets from the company’s spaceport on Mahia Peninsula. Brazil has signed an agreement that will allow U.S. companies to launch from the Alcantara Space Center.

The UAE state of Abu Dhabi has been a major investor in Virgin Galactic, which plans to fly suborbital tourism flights aboard SpaceShipTwo. In 2009, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Aabar Investments put in $280 million for a 31.7 percent share of Richard Branson’s space company. Aabar later invested an additional $100 million for a 38.7 percent share of Virgin Galactic.

The additional $100 million investment was intended to help finance the development of a small satellite booster that would be air launched from WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft when it wasn’t used for SpaceShipTwo suborbital flights. A new company, Virgin Orbit, split off from Virgin Galactic. The company dumped plans to use WhiteKnightTwo; instead, it uses a larger booster, LauncherOne, that is dropped from a modified Boeing 747 named Cosmic Girl.

The Second Life of the Gagarin Start Launch Complex

Gagarin Start launch complex at Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Translated from Russian by Google Translate

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — The place where modern cosmonautics was born is known for sure: it is the legendary “Gagarin Launch”, site No. 1 of the Baikonur cosmodrome. It was here that the launch of the first satellite opened the Space Age of mankind. It was from here that Yuri Gagarin ascended into orbit on April 12, 1961.

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Letter of Intent to Modernize Gagarin Launch Complex Signed in Dubai

DUBAI, UAE (Roscosmos PR) — On the second day of the Dubai Airshow 2021 Roscosmos, the UAE Space Agency and the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan signed a joint Letter of Intent confirming the interest of the parties to implement space projects in trilateral format.

In particular, the document states the mutual intention to shortly start a detailed analysis of the tripartite project to modernize the historical Site 1 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, from which the first human spaceflight took place.

Currently, this launch complex is not used due to the decommissioning of the Soyuz-FG carrier rocket in 2019, with the last rocket of the type launched in late September 2019.

If successfully implemented, the Gagarin’s Start project will revive the complex, allowing it to accept modern modifications of the Soyuz-2 launch vehicles. The parties plan to involve private investors into the project and to continue further joint commercial operation of the complex. According to experts, the project will enable the parties to present competitive offers on the international space launches market.

UAE Hope Spacecraft Built in Colorado Enters Mars Orbit

The Emirates Mars Mission Hope Spacecraft prior to shipment to Dubai and the Tanegashima Launch site, with fully deployed solar panels and instruments visible (facing the floor) measuring nearly 5 meters across. (Credit: MBRSC/Ken Hutchison)

The United Arab Emirates is celebrating today as the nation’s first planetary spacecraft, Hope, has entered orbit around Mars as scheduled.

The UAE Space Agency tweeted:

Congratulations to our leadership, our nation and the Emirates Mars Mission’s heroes that have achieved the impossible! The #HopeProbe’s historic journey to the Red Planet doubles our joy as it adds to a year of celebrations in the country to mark the Golden Jubilee of the #UAE.

Launched on a Japanese H-IIA rocket last July, Hope will study Martian weather cycles and make other observations of the Red Planet. It will gather data on why the planet is losing hydrogen and oxygen into space.

Hope is the first planetary mission undertaken by an Arab nation and comes as the UAE is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding. The project is seen as a major advance for the nation’s science, technology and engineering sectors.

While that is true, Hope was actually built in Colorado with the participation of engineers from three American universities with substantial expertise in space missions. The Hope page in Wikipedia has a succinct summary:

The mission design, development, and operations are led by the  Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). The spacecraft was developed by MBRSC and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder, with support from Arizona State University (ASU) and the University of California, Berkeley….It was built by a joint Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP)/Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) team at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Although UAE paid for the $200 million mission, it wouldn’t have been possible without substantial American assistance.

This is not to rain on anyone’s parade, but simply to give credit where credit is due. Under other circumstances, Hope would likely be labeled a joint UAE-American mission to Mars.

14 Candidates Qualify for Final Phase of Second Group of UAE Astronaut Programme

New batch of astronauts set to be announced in January 2021

DUBAI (Dubai Media Office PR) — The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) today announced that 14 candidates have qualified for the final phase of the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, which aims to train and prepare a team of Emiratis for scientific space missions, as part of the UAE’s National Space Programme. The selected candidates will now undergo final interviews conducted by a committee consisting of specialists from MBRSC, including Emirati astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi along with NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Jessica Meir.

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United Arab Emirates Accedes to Artemis Accords

ABU DHABI, UAE, Oct. 13, 2020 (UAE Space Agency PR) — The United Arab Emirates Space Agency has announced that it has signed the Artemis Accords, an international treaty that aims to further cement the principles of peaceful collaboration and co-existence in the exploration of space, planetary science and space engineering, and paving the way for Lunar and Martian exploration.

“We have ourselves benefited from many fruitful partnerships as we have evolved our own space programme,” Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri, UAE Minister for Advanced Technology and Chair of the UAE Space Agency said. “As a result, we have also been able to make increasingly effective contributions to international efforts to push the boundaries in our shared human knowledge and understanding of our universe.”

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Canadian Space Agency Signs Artemis Accords

Canadian Space Agency President Lisa Campbell signed the Artemis Accords on behalf of Canada. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

LONGUEIUL, Quebec (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is working with national and international partners to write the next chapter of space exploration—sending humans to more distant destinations like the Moon and Mars.

Today, the CSA proudly joined other space agencies – NASA, the Australian Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Luxembourg Space Agency, the United Arab Emirates Space Agency, and the UK Space Agency – in signing the Artemis Accords. This commitment is an important first step towards ensuring safe and sustainable exploration beyond Earth’s orbit.

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Exolaunch to Deliver UAE Space Agency’s Small Satellite into Orbit on Soyuz-2

Pioneer satellites launch on board Soyuz. (Credit: Roscomos)

Exolaunch will launch MeznSat, a 3U cubesat aboard a Soyuz-2 rocket, for the UAE Space Agency in mid-2020.

BERLIN, March 17, 2020 (Exolaunch PR) — Berlin-based Exolaunch (www.exolaunch.com) – the leading launch services and deployment system provider for small satellites – today announced that the launch of a 3U cubesat, MeznSat, for the UAE Space Agency will be performed aboard a Soyuz-2 rocket. The purpose of the satellite is to study and monitor the greenhouse gases, specifically CO2 and Methane, over the UAE. 

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UAE, 10 Other Arab Nations Form New Space Coordination Group

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The UAE Space Agency today announced the creation of the Arab Space Coordination Group to facilitate cooperation among its 11 member nations.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the group’s formation and attended a signing ceremony during the Global Space Congress in Abu Dhabi.

In addition to UAE, charter members of the new group include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

The coordination group’s first project will be the development of the UAE-funded spacecraft 813, an observation satellite that will monitor the Earth’s environment and climate. The satellite will be built over the next three years by engineers from member countries at United Arab Emirates University’s National Space Science and Technology Center in Al Ain.

The satellite’s name is a homage to the year in which the House of Wisdom was founded in Baghdad under the reign of Al-Ma’mun. The house embraced scientists from throughout the region, who translated notable texts and advanced science.

“The Satellite 813 is a message the UAE is sending to the Arab communities on the ambitions to regain Arabs glories as pioneers in the space domains,” said Dr. Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, Cabinet Member and Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency.











More Details on UAE National Space Strategy 2030

ABU DHABI, UAE (UAE Cabinet PR) — The UAE Cabinet, chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has adopted the National Space Strategy 2030 during its meeting at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi.

The Cabinet meeting was attended by H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

Sheikh Mohammed asserted that the UAE has established an economic powerhouse and advanced infrastructure by young Emirati talents, which enabled it to be at the forefront of the space exploration industry today.

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UAE Cabinet Approves National Space Strategy

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Cabinet has approved a National Space Strategy to guide the UAE until 2030, The National reports.

The strategy includes 79 projects in the areas of science and space research, manufacturing, assembly and testing in addition to the commercial space service sector, Sheikh Mohammed [bin Rashid] said.

“Last year we celebrated the launch of the first satellite fully built by young Emirati engineers, and in the very near future we will see them operating international space technology centers, based in the UAE,” he said in a news release from the Cabinet office.

“We will see Emirati cadres, highly skilled and specialised in space science, achieving scientific breakthroughs that serve the entire humanity.

“We are investing in the space industry, with ambitious projects and initiatives that will benefit our citizens and contribute to key sectors of the national economy. This is an important milestone for our country, and we are aiming to become a model for countries seeking to launch ambitious space programmes.”

Meanwhile, two Emirati astronauts — Hazza Al Mansouri, 34 and Sultan Al Neyadi, 37 — are in training in Russia for a spaceflight to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft in September. It has not been announced which astronaut will fly with Russian commander Oleg Skripochka and American astronaut Chris Cassidy.











UAE Eyeing Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Flights

A view from SpacehipTwo. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is looking to host flights of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, The National reports.

Mohammad Al Ahbabi, director of the UAE Space Agency, said the organisation is working with Virgin Galactic on a bid to operate tourist space flights from Al Ain International Airport in the coming years….

“The reason why the company opted for Al Ain airport is that it is less crowded than other UAE airports, which are scheduled with thousands of flights.”

Airbus has used Al Ain airport to stress test its new aircraft in high summer temperatures, including the wide-body A350.

It was chosen for its hot, dry conditions and relatively quiet runways.

Abu Dhabi is part-owner of Virgin Galactic having invested $390 million in the company through its sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala Investment Company (formerly known as aabar Investments).











NASA Deepens International Space Cooperation

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

BREMEN, Germany (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine took advantage of the global presence at the 2018 International Astronautical Congress to sign three new agreements, underpinning the agency’s continued commitment to international cooperation. The agreements, with Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Japan, covered lunar exploration, X-ray astronomy and human space flight.

NASA and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) agreed to cooperatively utilize the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL’s commercial lunar mission, expected to land on the Moon in 2019. NASA will contribute a laser retroreflector array to aid with ground tracking and Deep Space Network support to aid in mission communication. ISA and SpaceIL will share data with NASA from the SpaceIL lunar magnetometer installed aboard the spacecraft. The instrument, which was developed in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute of Science, will measure the magnetic field on and above the landing site.

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NASA, UAE Space Agency Sign Historic Agreement for Cooperation in Human Spaceflight

BREMEN, Germany (NASA PR) — NASA and the UAE Space Agency (UAESA) signed an Implementing Arrangement (IA) Monday, Oct. 1, that outlines cooperation across a range of areas related to space exploration and human spaceflight. The document was signed by H.E. Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during a ceremony at the 69th International Astronautical Congress, being held in Bremen, Germany Oct. 1-5.

The IA falls under the overarching Framework Agreement signed between the UAESA and NASA in June 2016, which established a framework for areas of cooperation in ground-based research; sub-orbital research; research and flight activities in low-Earth orbit (LEO); and human and robotic exploration in the vicinity of the moon, on the lunar surface, and beyond.

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