Two payloads from the National Space Science Agency of the Kingdom of Bahrain (NSSA) and the Antarikchya Pratisthan Nepal University have been selected to be on board the Payload Hosting Initiative-1 mission, the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) of the United Arab Emirates announced Thursday. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: The UAE’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have announced on Thursday two winning payloads that will be carried to space on PHI-1 satellite, as part of the ‘Access to Space for All’ initiative.

The Payload Hosting Initiative (PHI) launched early this year is a joint initiative by MBRSC and UNOOSA to provide payload hosting to UN member states on MBRSC’s satellite platform to demonstrate new technologies and build space science and technology in developing countries. Its end goal is to ensure that no one is left behind on the path to space exploration and sustainable development on Earth. It is also intended to advance the objectives of UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The two payloads to be on board the first transport called PHI-1 are from Bahrain’s National Space Science Agency (NSSA) and Nepal University’s Antarikchya Pratisthan. PHI-1 will provide a 5U slot within the 12U modular setup of the satellite.

Developed by a Bahraini team, the ‘Aman’ payload will test an optimised Advanced Encryption Standard, which will ensure secure communication between satellite and ground station. While Nepal’s “Danfe Space Mission” will study the operation of PX4 Autopilot, a middleware for drones in space, with focus on the system’s behaviour and operation.

According to MBRSC, “both payloads will provide practical experience, knowledge, and skills to the teams and will contribute to capacity-building in space technology.

Innovation in space

Under the MoU signed last year at the 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC) held in Dubai, UNOOSA and MBRSC “will strive to accelerate and foster innovation in the space technology sector by extending their support and knowledge to the world.”

Salem Humaid AlMarri, MBRSC director general of MBRSC, said on Thursday: “We have made tremendous progress in the year since the initial announcement of the Payload Hosting Initiative (PHI). Today we are congratulating the entities that have been selected to participate in the PHI-1 mission. This joint effort supports capacity-building and promotes space science and technology in developing countries and is an important opportunity for innovation and new technology demonstration. This truly testifies how – with everyone’s efforts and participation – we can advance in space exploration”.

UNOOSA acting director Niklas Hedman added: “The Access to Space for All initiative has been ground-breaking for the 21st-century capacity-building in space science and technology. We are grateful for the support of our partners. I already look forward to seeing the results of the PHI programme boosting the space industry in Bahrain and Nepal.”

Building national capacity

Mohamed Al-Aseeri, CEO of NSSA, commented: “We are delighted and honoured that the ‘Aman’ project was selected by UNOOSA and MBRSC in the first round of the PHI initiative. Aman is considered the first Bahraini payload fully designed, integrated, and tested by NSSA. This opportunity is unprecedented in our quest to contribute meaningfully to the global effort towards sustainable, peaceful use of outer space and building national capacity in the space field.”

Abhas Maskey, founder of Antarikchya Pratisthan, an organisation working towards developing space industry in Nepal, added: “I strongly believe that Nepal’s involvement in PHI-1 will be a small step toward future potential collaboration for Vision 2050, a vision to launch our nation’s first astronaut in space by 2050. Space is the new limit, even for Nepal.”