The Academy will facilitate a practical study of space hardware and meticulous planning for space mission scenarios, among many other areas of focus. Image used for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The UAE Space Agency with the support of the National Space Fund has unveiled a fund initiative “The National Space Academy” on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow.

The Fund is aligning with its long-term vision and strategic goals to bolster national space programmes’ sustainability and foster human resource development. The innovative Academy is designed to enhance young Emiratis’ expertise in space science and technology, adhering to the "most rigorous" international standards. By equipping these individuals with world-class knowledge and skills, the Academy seeks to empower them to make significant contributions to the thriving success of the UAE Space Programme.

The National Space Academy is poised to revolutionise acquiring and enriching space-related knowledge among Emirati youth. This pioneering initiative provides a unique environment fostering innovation by seamlessly integrating cutting-edge academic research practices and hands-on practical experience.

Through dynamic workshops and hands-on activities, the academy strives to expedite knowledge transfer to aspiring professionals in the space industry. It passionately ignites curiosity and cultivates a deep interest in diverse fields and sciences related to space, propelling individuals towards a path of excellence and accomplishment.

The National Space Academy will contribute to enhancing entrepreneurship, a key pillar of the UAE’s economic renaissance and comprehensive development. By creating more job opportunities to meet the growing demand for specialised jobs in the knowledge economy, transforming ideas and innovations into successful projects, and promoting innovation and competitiveness, the academy will contribute to supporting the UAE government’s objectives of growing a knowledge-based economy.

The academy’s multifaceted approach centres on two key pillars. Firstly, it prioritises the skill development of Emirati cadres, equipping them with the necessary expertise to thrive in the space field.

Secondly, it emphasises the hands-on aspect and know-how tailored for various objectives within the space field. This encompasses a comprehensive programme with theoretical frameworks and hands-on applications. By integrating theoretical knowledge with practical experiences, participants gain a holistic understanding of the subject matter, fostering a strong foundation of comprehensive knowledge and practical expertise.

Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology, Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, said: “The Dh3 billion National Space Fund was established to support the country’s space sector. It works under the umbrella of the UAE Space Agency towards finding solutions to finance and facilitate the development of space activities and the development of the UAE space sector.

"Emirati youth are our main force and drive in the comprehensive development renaissance, and they are the future leaders for achieving sustainability in the UAE’s space sector. By developing their skills through the National Space Academy, they can acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to work in the space industry to be pioneers in this field. Through this, we can achieve our ambitions for the future and utilise our skills and capabilities in space exploration and development.”

Al Amiri added: “The academy will reinforce the commitment to achieving scientific progress and sustainable development in our society, in addition to offering a unique model in converting theoretical knowledge to practical experiences, to qualify graduates to contribute to the national space sector effectively.”

Salem Butti Salem Al Qubaisi, Director-General of the UAE Space Agency, said: “We are delighted with the successful results and the wide participation in the space workshops, as this confirms the capabilities of Emirati youth to lead the space sector and support the local and international scientific community in the future with scientific expertise and exploration.”

Al Qubaisi added: “The National Space Academy will have a significant role in providing creative and talented Emirati youth with practical experience and encourage and inspire them to participate in national missions, projects, and initiatives in the future.”

Al Qubaisi continued: “We seek to build a generation that possesses knowledge and creativity to make great achievements in space and develop it for the benefit of humanity. We aim to create a generation that can achieve a sustainable space vision through cooperation and coordination with institutes, global organisations, and local space industry companies to develop advanced and innovative educational programmes that enable students to acquire the necessary skills and enhance their abilities.”

Dr Ray O. Johnson, CEO of the Technology Innovation Institute, said: “The space industry is unique and complex. It requires expertise, skills, and strategic cooperation to ensure its sustainability. Hence, we must strengthen cooperation between the academic sector and specialised companies to train young talents and enable them to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to work in this pioneering sector.”

Johnson added: “We are pleased that five Emirati engineers from TII participated in the first and second phases of the space workshops. We are also pleased with their sponsorship of the third phase, which will enable them to join the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt (EMA), under the supervision of space mission experts.”

Johnson continued: “The Academy will provide an educational, research, and practical environment that enables students to explore and develop new technologies, in addition to accelerating development processes and providing effective and innovative solutions that ensure the sustainability of the field and its continuous development.”

The academy will provide a comprehensive learning experience by offering a combination of theoretical and practical workshops focused on the intricacies of the space environment. Participants will gain a profound understanding of the fundamentals through engaging lectures, dynamic discussions, interactive sessions, and hands-on exploration experiences.

Additionally, the academy will facilitate a practical study of space hardware and meticulous planning for space mission scenarios. This includes in-depth insights into the engineering and design of space vehicles and missions while fostering teamwork and expertise through simulated space mission simulations. The academy ensures a well-rounded educational journey for its participants by encompassing theoretical knowledge and practical application.

The National Space Academy, slated to commence its training sessions in the first quarter of 2024, is a remarkable culmination of the three-phase space workshops initiated in January 2023. The workshops played a pivotal role in nurturing and honing the skills of ambitious Emirati participants, 51 in the first phase, 26 in the second phase, and 13 proceeded to the third phase.

Upon successful completion of performance evaluations and interviews, graduates of the space workshops had the unique opportunity to engage in a three-month space mission experience. They contributed to and collaborated on specific tasks and operations during this mission, gaining invaluable hands-on experience. Additionally, participants delved deeper into their chosen specialisations by undertaking research projects at the esteemed National Space Academy. Under the individual supervision and guidance of academics and space experts, they explored cutting-edge subjects within space studies.

As an integral component of the UAE government’s transformative initiatives, the academy aligns with the visionary directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. This forward-looking endeavour aims to propel the nation towards attaining the pinnacle of global excellence and cultivating a vibrant, world-leading economy.

The space workshops comprised two distinct phases, each offering a unique learning experience. In the initial phase, emphasis was placed on theoretical and academic foundations, providing participants with a solid understanding of the subject matter. The subsequent phase focused on fostering collaboration and team building among participants. This phase entailed the intricate task of developing and designing a spacecraft, as well as formulating a comprehensive space mission plan that encompassed all aspects, including subsystems, ground operations, flight dynamics, software tools, and immersive field visits to the UAE space industry entities.

With the dedicated guidance and supervision of 28 accomplished trainers and specialists, participants in these workshops gained invaluable practical experiences within a dynamic and engaging educational environment. These experiences served as a springboard for their contributions to space exploration, equipping them with comprehensive knowledge and skill sets necessary to make significant strides in the field.

As the strategic partner of the Dubai Airshow, the UAE Space Agency led the first participation of the space sector, joining the aviation and defense pillars of the exhibition. During the exhibition, which is being held until November 17 at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), the agency showcased key achievements, projects, and initiatives, and nurtured international strategic relations and partnerships in this vital sector.