Abu Dhabi: Tawazun Economic Council (Tawazun) has formed a partnership with Airbus and the National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) at UAE University, which will see the building of a satellite centre in Al Ain.
The centre will develop and build communication, navigation and hyperspectral satellites ranging in size between 50 and 250 kilograms, with plans to commence operations at the beginning of 2021.
The centre will be based at the NSSTC facilities, with Airbus supporting NSSTC during the design, outfitting and commissioning of the facility as part of the collaboration. Airbus will also manage the procurement, installation and operational qualification required for the equipment.
“This is our second project after Yahsat, and there are many more projects to come, as Tawazun works to further develop the UAE space sector,” said Matar Ali Al Romaithi, chief economic development officer of Tawazun.
“The UAE is building and acquiring the knowledge required to become a regional hub for space activities and advanced research and development. This Centre is an integral part of those plans and consequently Tawazun has worked to make sure that it operates as a sustainable resource for the next five to seven years with a view to becoming permanent,” he added.
“We also value the significant contribution that Airbus is making to the centre’s sustainability, as well as to the increase and development of our Emirati resource and expertise,” Al Romaithi said.
The UAE space sector has provided 3,000 jobs to date at 50 space related entities, with the new project expected to create 32 new jobs - 22 of whom will be UAE nations - with significant know-how transfer and training being conducted at Airbus facilities in France as well as locally.
“The space industry is an important and strategic sector for the UAE, as it enables the development of high-level skills and drives innovation,” said Mikail Houari, president Africa and Middle East, Airbus. “This new collaboration will support the future growth of the UAE’s space and satellite sector, contributing to the country’s economic diversification strategy,” he added.
“It will also support the continued efforts around Emiratization, which will be vital for ensuring long-term sustainable development of the sector,” he said.
The UAE Space Agency is funding the first two projects that will be completed under the management and operation of NSSTC. The first project will be a satellite that will augment navigational capabilities for the UAE and the second will be the Arab 813 Satellite – which was announced by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. Both projects are currently underway with the support of Airbus and will be completed at the new facilities.
“The UAE will soon have a fully autonomous AIT (assembly, integration and testing) satellite capability, and this will benefit the country’s satellite programmes as well as further enhancing space-related skills within the country,” said Dr Khaled Al Hashmi, director of NSSTC.