Dubai: Officials have revealed details of a new earth imaging satellite that will be the first satellite to be completed in the UAE.
DubaiSat-3 is scheduled for launch in 2017 after its development is completed in Dubai by the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST).
The 330kg-satellite will be able to take high quality images of the UAE and other places — down to a sub-metre resolution of 70cm — from an orbit 600km above Earth.
The pictures can be used for various purposes such as weather studies, mapping, and infrastructure planning.
Currently, government departments have to purchase such images from non-UAE operators, said Salem Al Merri, EIAST’s assistant director general for scientific and technical affairs.
However, DubaiSat-3 is not a commercial project, Al Merri added.
His comments came during the project’s announcement at a Dubai press conference attended by top EIAST officials.
They said a team of 45 UAE experts and engineers will lead the project development from scratch to launch.
However, initial development will take place in South Korea in collaboration with Satrec Initiative (SI), a solution provider for Earth observation missions.
This is EIAST’s third satellite programme with SI — the earlier ones being DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2 — but DubaiSat-3 will be led by Emirati engineers with SI taking a consultative role.
DubaiSat-2 is scheduled for lift-off in 2013; DubaiSat-1 was sent into space in 2009 from Kazakhstan.
Officials said the latest satellite will have significantly better imaging, pointing, downloading and computing capabilities, but remained light-lipped about the cost of the project.
DubaiSat-3 will be transferred to EIAST’s satellite manufacturing facilities in Dubai’s Khawaneej area midway through the project. Once here, it will be built by an all-Emirati team.
EIAST is to start developing its own clean room and satellite manufacturing facilities, consisting of labs that keep out dust and humidity.
Al Merri said EIAST will study various options related to the DubaiSat-3 launch — which could include lift-off from India — based on costs, and the chosen date and orbit.
The “eye in the sky” will have a lifetime of five years from launch.
EIAST Chairman of the Board of Directors Hamad Al Mansouri said: “The ultimate goal of [EIAST] is to develop a core team of local experts and position UAE as a global leader in science and technology.
“We are inspired by the passion and dedication of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who is the leading proponent of the EIAST initiative.”
EIAST Director General Yousuf Al Shaibani added: “The DubaiSat-3 is an important project as it tests our own satellite manufacturing capabilities and ultimately gives insights to further improve future satellite development programmes.”
There were already discussions at the press conference of a ‘DubaiSat-4,’ with Al Merri saying a possible successor “could be different, have a wider swathe or width. When you’re talking about [imaging] layers of agriculture, for example, you care more about a wide swathe, not resolution alone.”