Dubai: The first UAE-built space satellite in the country’s history is complete and has been flown to South Korea before its launch later this year, confirmed officials on Thursday.
The KhalifaSat project began in 2013 as instructed by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Set to blast into the earth’s orbit later this year, KhalifaSat will provide detailed, high-quality images of earth for a variety of uses, such as environmental monitoring and urban planning, allowing the UAE to provide competitive services across the world.
Earlier this month during an inspection of the satellite, Shaikh Mohammad said: “Emirati engineers are the first in the Arab world to construct a satellite without foreign assistance. This is a major achievement that signifies the high level of capabilities UAE youth have acquired in space technologies.”
“The high level of expertise that Emirati scientists and engineers have developed creates a strong foundation for the future scientific and technological development of the UAE,” he said during the inspection.
“We are confident that the nation’s space industry sector will continue its strong growth, and emerge as a key component of our economy. The development of KhalifaSat is not only a source of pride for Emiratis and Arabs, but also a global achievement that will benefit humanity, and offers scientific solutions for development globally,” Shaikh Mohammad said during his visit to Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre at the time.
KhalifaSat, the first satellite developed and built by Emirati engineers in the UAE at the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), was transported by Emirates SkyCargo the freight division of Emirates said on Thursday.
After major preparations, KhalifaSat was flown from Dubai to Incheon International Airport in South Korea on an Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777 freighter aircraft that was specially chartered for the occasion. the company said.
Following its launch in 2018, the remote-sensing satellite will provide images of earth for practical application in a variety of industries.
“Over the years Emirates SkyCargo has transported a wide variety of unusual cargo but being able to transport the first satellite manufactured in the UAE is a unique honour. We are delighted to bring our expertise in air transportation to the table on this historic and momentous occasion,” said Nabil Sultan, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Cargo.
“It has been a journey of nearly five years from the time the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre commenced the manufacture of KhalifaSat to now where we’re getting ready for the final launch. We needed a partner who had the capability and expertise to transport KhalifaSat from Dubai without compromising its sensitive instrumentation and components. Emirates SkyCargo worked with us over a three month period to make sure that the entire transportation process went smoothly,” said Salem Al Marri, Assistant Director General for Scientific and Technical Affairs, Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre
Given the extremely sensitive nature of the shipment, teams from Emirates SkyCargo and MBRSC worked together from November 2017 to prepare and plan all the steps in the movement of the satellite from Dubai to Incheon airport.
The satellite was first moved from MBRSC’s manufacturing facility in Dubai to the Emirates SkyCentral DWC freighter cargo terminal at Dubai World Central airport on a dedicated remotely monitored Emirates SkyCargo truck travelling on a geo-fenced route with a police escort for maximum security.
A number of trial loading exercises were also conducted by Emirates SkyCargo and MBRSC to ensure that operations went smoothly during the actual transportation of the satellite, the firm said.