H-IIA rocket lifts off with KhalifaSat, the first Arabic satellite that is 100% Emirati-made. Image Credit: Twitter


■ The satellite bears the name of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

■ KhalifaSat is proudly and 100% "Made in the UAE’"

■ 70 UAE male and female engineers developed the first Emirati-engineered satellite

■ The satellite is the fastest in transferring high-quality images and the first to be developed 100% by Emiratis.

■ At a speed of 7 km/s, it orbits the Earth almost 14-and-a-half cycles daily

It was a textbook orbital launch of KhalifaSat on-board Japan's H2A rocket, which lifted off at 8:08 AM Dubai time on Monday.

The first 100-per cent Emirati-engineered and -developed satellite, manufactured in the UAE at the Mohammad bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai, was launched successfully from Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan. 

At about 9.58am, initial signals from KhalifaSat was received — definitive sign of the rocket's superb performance and that KhalifaSat, a remote sensing Earth observation satellite, is "healthy".

MBRSC announced the successful launch of the Emirati satellite KhalifaSat into orbit.

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Following are the launch updates: 

Live stream of the launch from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan.

10.05 am

Live broadcast from Tanegashima Space Centre ends.

10.03 am

"We plan to provide launch vehicle footage footage. The boardcast content has been changed due to difficulties in retrieving a part of the footage," says Japan's space centre.

9.58 am

First signals from KhalifaSat received, according to UAE Barq. 

9.53 am

"We are about to send footage from cameras on the launch vehicle, preparations will finish soon": Japan's Tanegashima space centre.

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, tweets:

"Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said in a tweet: "A new historic day for the UAE. The launch of 'KhalifaSat' is the first Arabic satellite 100% Emirati-made. A milestone for UAE as Emiratis proved their ability, maturity, knowledge and ambition, joining the global race with our heads up."

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE, tweeted: "An unprecedented Emirati achievement launching the first satellite, KhalifaSat, with Emirati hands. Our dream to embrace space has become a reality for our young people, who are launching a new stage of scientific challenge. We are proud our youth, Zayed's children and their achievements that demonstrate that Arabs are able to compete and lead."

9.49 am

It's confirmed: KhalifaSat has jettisoned from the H-IIA rocket.

Celebrations at the Tanegashima space centre in Japan.

It is confirmed to have been inserted into orbit at 613km above the Earth's surface, and will travel south on a sun-synchronous orbit (SSO, see glossary of terms below).

What will happen after orbital insertion?

■ MBRSC has a timeframe of about one week of actual management of the spacecraft in space. This includes different activities like managing the satellite telemetries and making sure the communication between the satellite and the ground station is correct, Amer Al Sayegh, KhalifaSat Project Manager, said.

■ KhalifaSat’s sensors will be tested through what is called orbit calibration to fix or adjust some parameters of the sensors, ensuring the satellite is working accurately in space.

■ After this, the satellite will start taking images for calibration. Special calibration sites are designated for this purpose. This is like taking an image of a blank area to analyse the behaviour of its sensors.

■ The first official photo be taken by the KhalifaSat will be that of a “unique place” on earth that will be revealed later on.

In a tweet, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Executive Council, said: "We are all proud of the capabilities of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre, the owners of this important project which bears the name of the head of state. Our celebration during the year of Zayed takes a new dimension as the image of our founding father reaches outer space."

He added: "We congratulate the leadership and the people of the UAE on the successful launch of 'KhalifaSat', which was manufactured entirely by Emirati engineers and arrived today in its orbit, confirming the rise of the ambitions of our people and the energies of our youth."


9.34 am

H-IIA rocket is proceeding beyond tracking range. Control centre in Japan is standing by to acquire signals from the Khalifasat.

8.25 am

100min from now, KhalifaSat’s separation and orbital insertion will be confirmed — somewhere over western Australia. 

8.24 am

Confirmed: Ibuki2 (Gosat), the first payload, separates from the H-IIA rocket. Inserted into orbit. 

The actual image taken from the rocket carrying KhalifaSat of the Gosat (Ibuki2) orbital insertion. Screengrab

8.23 am

Rocket's second stage separates from main rocket.  

8.21 am

Rocket has reached 570km above the Earth, streaking through the sky with a velocity of 5.3km/sec. Flight status normal.

8.16 am

Rocket reaches 390 km above earth's surface. Everything going well. Trajectory normal.

8.13 am

The 1st stage engine is cut off and separate at 6min 46 seconds. After that, engine 2 will ignite and place Ibuki-2 into its designated orbit.

Engine 2 will cut off at 15min 26 seconds into flight.

8.08 am

UAE's KhalifaSat successfully lifts off to space on board H2-A rocket from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre.

The H-IIA launch vehicle carrying the UAE’s KhalifaSat and another Japanese satellite Ibuki-2 successfully lifted off to space at the Tanegashima Space Centre.

It will continue to accelerate for 4min and 20 seconds after launch, the fairing housing the KhalifaSat and Ibuki-2 will separate.

Outside the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Cente (MBRSC) in Dubai. Top officials of the centre, including Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani and KhalifaSat Project Manager Amer Al are at the Observation Stand, 3km away from the launch pad in Japan.

The UAE’s first 100 per cent Emirati-made satellite, the KhalifaSat, will be launched  today, Monday, October 29  at 8.08am from the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the JAXA Tanegashima Space Centre, in southern Japan.KhalifaSat will help meet the growing global demand for Earth Imaging.

The launch is a proud moment for a country so young, and its young and dynamic engineers whose passion goes beyond the skies.

The KhalifaSat is designed to capture high-resolution images with a spatial resolution of 70cm, meaning each pixel represents 70cm of the ground being captured.


•  5 ways KhalifaSat will boost Earth imaging
•  All set for UAE-built satellite launch today
•  KhalifaSat: New era in space imagery
•  UAE-made satellite set for 2018 launch

Attendees at MBR Space Centre prepare to watch the launch of KhalifaSAT, the first Emirati satellite, live.


To mark the event, a video was played on the viant LED skin of Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower at 828 meters, on Sunday night. 


What is it?

The KhalifaSat is an imaging satellite designed and built by Emiratis on UAE soil, specifically in the clean rooms of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Al Khawaneej. The project began in December 2013.

Why did they build it?

Once in orbit, KhalifaSat will provide a high-resolution imagery of 0.7m in a Low Earth Orbit trajectory, meaning from an orbit 600km above the earth. Capturing the earth’s natural beauty in precise detail and accuracy is the satellite’s predominant mission.

Equipped with the latest in space and imaging technology, KhalifaSat will prove to be a powerful imaging tool, more agile than its predecessors: the DubaiSat-1 launched in Kazakhstan in 2009 and DubaiSat-2 launched in Russia in 2013.

What happens now that is in orbit?

Now that it in orbit, KhalifaSat will provide detailed high-quality imagery for a variety of uses, allowing the UAE to provide competitive services for such high-resolution images across the world.

H-IIA rocket carrying the Khalifasat ready being prepared for launch at Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), on 29 October 2018, at 8:08 AM Dubai time. Supplied


Sun-synchronous orbit: Stellites that move from pole to pole as the earth rotates.

Telemetry: This is the automatic measurement and wireless transmission of data from remote sources, such as a satellite.


KhalifaSat represents a leap in UAE global ranks

By Mohammed Jalal Alrayssi, Executive Director of the Emirates News Agency, WAM

ABU DHABI:  In the Year of Zayed, the UAE's ranking has catapulted among the top ten powerful countries in the world. Today's successful launch of KhalifaSat, the UAE designed, developed and manufactured space satellite, is proof of the UAE's strong standing and international presence among nations.

The UAE's space industry endeavours also include eight other multi-purpose satellites placed into orbit by the UAE, with plans to launch 12 satellites by 2020, a significant milestone in the UAE's strategy to make the space industry one of the most dynamic and vital economic and investment sectors.

KhalifaSat's successful launch and the aforementioned accomplishments are not only indicative of the UAE's space industries advancement, but also mark a qualitative shift in its global power ranking.

The UAE's ability to embark on this project since 2013, and its ability to construct its first-ever satellite on the nation's soil, by young highly skilled Emirati engineers, aged between 27 and 28 years, embodies the leadership's commitment to involving our youth for the sake of the nation's future and its progress and development.

This, in turn, highlights the importance of the UAE's integrated development objectives, making the country a central hub for technological development, and advancement in sciences not only regionally, but also globally. Worth noting is the UAE's investing more than Dh22 billion to advance the space industry and research to assist across multiple sectors especially those of environmental and humanitarian concern.

Another important message behind the launch of KhalifaSat is that of the human element. Millions witnessed the live launch of KhalifaSat from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre, reflecting the strong bonds of partnership between the UAE and nations across the world, with the aim to ensure safety, peace and security for humanity.

The launch of KhalifaSat is a true testament to the UAE's space industry strategy aspirations, but also reflective of the country's leadership and their drive to spread a message of tolerance while strengthening the UAE's status as a leading global player.