Russia Signs Agreement to Fly Saudi Astronaut to ISS

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos State Corporation Director General Dmitry Rogozin took part in the state delegation headed by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin during a state visit to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

During the trip to Abu-Dhabi the Head of Roscosmos met with Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre management and the first UAE astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori, who has recently returned to Earth after his flight to the ISS as part of the international crew. Hazzaa Al Mansoori stayed at the ISS from September 25 to October 3, 2019.

The meeting participants noted that the first UAE astronaut flight is a historical event not only for his homeland, but also for the whole region.

Moreover, during the visit of Vladimir Putin to Riyadh, Roscosmos and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement of cooperation in crewed spaceflights and global satellite navigation system GLONASS. Among other things, the agreement allows for launching a Saudi Arabian cosmonaut to the International Space Station.

NanoRacks Opens Office in United Arab Emirates

ABU DHABI, UAE (NanoRacks PR) – NanoRacks, the world’s leading provider of commercial access to space, is pleased to announce that it’s opening and staffing its first office in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Abu Dhabi’s Hub71, a global tech ecosystem driven by Mubadala Investment Company, backed by the Abu Dhabi Government’s Ghadan 21 program.

This expansion highlights NanoRacks commitment to the growing space sector in the UAE and will offer end-to-end customer service and technical advice for a fast-developing customer base in the Middle East, Africa, and South East Asia region.

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Astronauts Return from International Space Station

NASA astronaut Nick Hague, Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and visiting astronaut from United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hazzaa Ali Almansoori returned to Earth from the International Space Station at 6:59 am in Kazakhstan. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Nick Hague returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Thursday, alongside Soyuz commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The crew landed safely at 6:59 a.m. EDT in Kazakhstan.

Hague and Ovchinin launched March 14, along with fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch. Six hours later, they began their 203-day mission on the station, orbiting Earth 3,248 times and traveling 86.1 million miles.

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Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic: The Numbers Never Added Up

Richard Branson and his children hang out with Project Bandaloop dancers during the dedication of the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space facility. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Fourteen years ago, Virgin Galactic and New Mexico promised “tens of thousands” of tourists would fly to space from Spaceport America by 2019. Total thus far: 0.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

When they announced in December 2005 that Virgin Galactic would locate its space tourism business in New Mexico, Virgin Founder Richard Branson and Gov. Bill Richardson made a number of eye-popping claims about why taxpayers should back a plan to build the Southwest Regional Spaceport to serve as the space tourism company’s home base:

  • $331 million in total construction revenues in 2007;
  • 2,460 construction-related jobs;
  • $1 billion in total spending, payroll of $300 million and 2,300 jobs by the fifth year of operation; and,
  • $750 million in total revenues and more than 3,500 jobs by 2020.

Virgin Galactic would sign a 20-year lease as anchor tenant and pay fees based on the number of launches it conducted. New Mexico would use the spaceport, Virgin’s presence and the funds generated to develop a large aerospace cluster.

Surprisingly, New Mexico would spend more money, $225 million, to develop a facility now known as Spaceport America than the $108 million that Branson planned to spend on developing a fleet of five SpaceShipTwos and WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft.

Among all the big numbers in the announcement, there was a truly astounding one that was deemed so important it was mentioned twice. (Emphasis added)

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New Crew Launches to International Space Station

Update: The astronauts have arrived safely at the space station.

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (NASA PR) — A multinational crew, including NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and the first space traveler from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station Wednesday, Sept. 25. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of the crew’s launch and arrival.

Meir, Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the UAE are set to launch at 9:57 a.m. EDT (6:57 p.m. Kazakhstan time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft.

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ESA Expertise Aids UAE Astronaut’s Flight to Space Station

In the Integration Building at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, spaceflight participant Hazzaa Al Mansouri of the United Arab Emirates (left) and Expedition 61 crewmates Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos (center) and Jessica Meir of NASA (right) pose for pictures 11 September in front of their Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

COLOGNE, Germany (ESA PR) — The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) first ever astronaut, Hazza Al Mansouri, is set to fly to the International Space Station, where he will be supported on the ground by ESA-trained operations personnel at a newly-established control centre in Dubai, UAE.

Hazza will be launched alongside NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 25 September.

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JAXA, UAE to Cooperate on Educational Project on Space Station

UAE astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori holds Int-Ball training model. (Credit: MBRSC)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) of the United Arab Emirates will cooperatively perform an educational project that uses JAXA’s “Int-Ball”, a camera robot for the International Space Station, when the UAE astronaut gets on board the International Space Station for the first time.

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Swiss Re Leaves Space Insurance Market

Built by Lockheed Martin, the WorldView-4 satellite will expand DigitalGlobe’s industry-leading constellation of high-accuracy, high-resolution satellites, and double the availability of 30 cm resolution imagery for commercial and government customers around the globe. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

SpaceNews reports that Swiss Re has left the space insurance market due to losses.

Jan Schmidt, the head of Swiss Re’s space underwriting division, said in an email obtained by SpaceNews that the decision to “cease Space underwriting with immediate effect” was driven by “bad results of recent years and unsustainable premium rates.”

Schmidt emailed clients and brokers the same day Swiss Re board member Andreas Berger told Reuters the company is reducing its space exposure as part of a broader effort to stem losses in its corporate insurance divisions.

Swiss Re is the world’s second largest reinsurance company.

The failure of an European Vega rocket last month resulted in $407 million (369 million euros) in losses to the insurance industry. The United Arab Emirate’s Falcon Eye 1 satellite was lost in the failure.

That accident followed on the heels of a $183 million claim by Maxar Technologies after the WorldView-4 satellite failed in orbit.

Satellite Insurance Rates Increasing After Failures of Vega, WorldView-4

Vega begins its ascent from the Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying Italy’s PRISMA Earth observation satellite on the third Arianespace mission of 2019. (Credit: Arianespace)

Reuters reports that insurance rates are going up following the failure of an European Vega rocket that destroyed a very expensive United Arab Emirate’s military reconnaissance satellite last month.

The loss of the Falcon Eye 1 satellite will cost insurers $411.21 million (369 million euros), which is the highest recorded amount for an insured satellite, Reuters reported.

The Vega rocket carrying the satellite failed on July 10 due to an anomaly in its second stage. It was the first failure of the rocket in 15 launch attempts.

In January, the failure of Maxar Technologies’ WorldView-4 imaging satelite resulted in an $183 million insurance claim.

Reuters reports that insurance payouts of $600 million outpaced premiums paid by about $150 million last year.

The cost of insuring satellites had come down in recent years due to cheaper launch costs and better booster reliability.

NanoRacks Flies Science Mission for First Emirati Astronaut, Commercial, Educational Customers on SpaceX ISS Launch

WEBSTER, Texas, July 29, 2019 (NanoRacks PR) — The 18th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from SpaceX delivered a historic mission for NanoRacks. NanoRacks, the leading provider of commercial access to low-Earth orbit, transported the materials for the science experiments that will be conducted by the first Emirati astronaut upon his arrival to the International Space Station (ISS) in late September, 2019.

NanoRacks also launched the first-ever microgravity experiment from Young Living – the world-leader in essential oils, amongst other educational research. Collectively, this amounts to NanoRacks’ single largest mission to the Space Station to date.

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Mubadala’s New Fund Seeks to Attract NewSpace Companies to Abu Dhabi

Spacewatch Global reports on efforts to attract NewSpace and other technology companies to Abu Dhabi:

Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala is set to create a start-up ecosystem in Abu Dhabi that will attract New Space and other emerging technology companies to the Gulf Arab state. The ecosystem will be called Hub71 and will include Softbank’s Vision Fund and Microsoft as partners, according to Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak – Mubadala’s Chief Executive Officer – in an interview with Nikkei Asian Review.

Hub71 is being funded by Mubadala to the tune of one billion Dirhams (U.S.$272 million) that will be used for subsidizing or to co-invest in promising startups involved in New Space, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and microelectronics. Hub71 will be based in the financial district of Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, and is part of the UAE’s overall strategy of diversifying its economy away from its dependency on hydrocarbons.

Mubadala manages assets worth over U.S.$250 billion in the United States, Europe, and more recently, in the Asia-Pacific region. Mubadala’s investments in Asia – totaling U.S.$15 billion to date – have been primarily made via Softbank’s Vision Fund.











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).