Launch image from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, USA. Image Credit: Yahsat, Northrop Grumman

Abu Dhabi: MySat-1, a new satellite developed by students of UAE-based Khalifa University of Science and Technology, was successfully launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday, officials have announced.

Once in orbit in the beginning of 2019, the miniature box-like satellite will take pictures of the UAE and the earth from space for educational earth observation purposes.

Besides demonstrating the process of remote sensing, the satellite’s payload includes an innovative lithium-ion battery developed at Khalifa University to be tested in the extreme temperatures and radiation in space.

Saturday’s milestone follows last month’s launch of KhalifaSat, the first all-Emirati made satellite developed by the Dubai-based Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre for earth observation.

The much smaller MySat-1 – measuring just 10cm on each side – is developed in the Yahsat Space Lab in Abu Dhabi by 20 students of Khalifa University.

Yahsat, the UAE-based global satellite operator, Khalifa University, and Northrop Grumman Corporation, a leading global security company, on Saturday announced the launch of the MySat-1 to ISS on board the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft.

The launch took place at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, US and was attended by a group of Khalifa University students and faculty who have participated in the development of the nanosatellite, also known as CubeSat.

Dr Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, executive vice-president of Khalifa University of Science and Technology, said: “The successful launch of MySat-1, developed and built by students of Khalifa University’s Master’s Concentration in Space Systems and Technology, demonstrates that our university possesses the academic and scientific rigour required to transform the UAE’s promising students into tomorrow’s space engineers and scientists. Through our Small Satellite Programme and the Master’s Concentration, Khalifa University is proud to play a critical role in the UAE’s broader space ambitions. We will continue to develop local talent that will be part of the Emirati space engineers and scientists who will contribute to the UAE’s Hope Mars Mission and the vibrancy of the country’s overall space sector.” Muna Al Muhairi, chief human capital officer at Yahsat, said: “MySat-1’s expedition into space marks an exciting accomplishment by the students of Khalifa University. It is also a testimony to the UAE’s growing talent pool in STEM education. Yahsat is proud to have collaborated with Khalifa University and Northrop Grumman to create the first multi-disciplinary academic space programme in the UAE which has resulted in the creation and successful launch of MySat-1. We are committed to developing the national talent pool through providing talent with unique opportunities to enhance their capabilities and drive innovation.”

MySat-1 is the first CubeSat built at the Yahsat Space Lab at Khalifa University. The laboratory was launched in 2017 at Masdar Institute in collaboration with Yahsat and Orbital ATK – part of Northrop Grumman – to develop and advance technologies within the space sector in line with the UAE’s space ambitions.

The lab offers students of Khalifa University’s Master’s Concentration in Space Systems and Technology the facilities required to construct, test and launch miniature satellites called CubeSats, as part of the university’s Small Satellite Programme. The high-tech and specialised facilities serve as a platform for future research in space technologies, allowing entities like the UAE Space Agency to work with the faculty on collaborative projects.

“The launch of MySat-1 is the culmination of the hard work on the part of the Khalifa University students over the past three years. Northrop Grumman is proud to have provided subject matter experts and mentors and we congratulate all the students involved in reaching this important milestone,” said Frank Culbertson, president, space systems group, Northrop Grumman.

MySat-1 launched Image Credit: Gulf News