Riyadh: The King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) has signed two agreements with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa).

The deals signed on the sidelines of the Saudi International Space and Aeronautics Technology Conference that began in Riyadh on Saturday are for extended scientific cooperation and exchange of research between them.

They also signed a letter of intent in the space and aeronautics area.

A large number of international space scientists are participating in the space science conference.


Saudi Arabia has so far launched 12 satellites. Two of them were sent up in 2000 and were operating until September 2003 and then the SaudiSat was launched, which is still operational, serving communication facilities.

"Two Saudi satellites were successfully launched in 2004 and 2005 followed by six satellites in 2006 and 2007 which are still working round the clock and have been sending detailed photos.

"These satellites focus on outer space research which benefits many public and private agencies," said Prince Dr Turki Bin Saud, vice-president of KACST's research institutes.

Saudi Arabia has been making large strides in space science.

Its programmes cover applied satellite technology and services, the prince said.

He stressed KACST's close cooperation with Nasa, Stanford University and space scientist Charles Everette.

"Our joint experience with them will be applied to the satellites to be manufactured in Saudi Arabia. A Saudi team is currently working in the US to design and produce satellites," he said.

Currently there are five agreements with the US, India and Russia which are approved by the Saudi Council of Ministers in addition to memorandums of understanding with the Ukraine and France, he said.

He added that Prince Sultan Bin Salman's space trip 25 years ago has in fact been the inspiration for Saudis to achieve greater accomplishments in the field of space science.

The inaugural session of the conference was opened by Dr Mohammad Al Suwaiyai, president of KACST, followed by addresses by leading speakers including Nasa chief, General Charles Bolden and Prince Sultan Bin Salman, who is the first Arab and Muslim cosmonaut.

Development plans

While giving a brief description of the strategies and development plans of Nasa since 1998, Bolden said President Barack Obama is keen on Nasa's increased international cooperation with related research establishments in the world.

He said Nasa has signed 4,000 agreements with 140 countries and 36 scientists in 15 countries have participated in its space trips.

He added that Nasa has been monitoring and photographing climatic changes occurring around the world including the countries in the Gulf and the Middle East.