Dubai: The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) today announced the successful launch of the first mission of the Payload Hosting Initiative (PHI), with the PHI-Demo satellite now in orbit.
The PHI-Demo satellite onboard the Soyuz-2 rocket had lifted off from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome at 3:34pm UAE time today. The pioneering project, the first of its kind in the Arab world, has all its mechanical components constructed in the UAE in collaboration with the private sector.
The satellite will be positioned at an altitude of about 550km, and operated from MBRSC and the labs of partner universities - American University RAK and Khalifa University.
Development of PHI-Demo
MBRSC has crafted the ‘platform’, the shell of the PHI-Demo satellite that hosts the payloads, with a 100 per cent Emirati team. The Emirati-crafted project, a product of local innovation and skill, serves as the backbone of the pioneering PHI initiative. Jointly led by MBRSC and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the project heralds a new era of international cooperation in space exploration, facilitating the sustainable advancement of innovative space technologies.
Reflecting on the achievement, Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director General, MBRSC, said: “The successful launch of the PHI-Demo, a satellite entirely constructed in the UAE, marks a significant milestone in our nation’s space journey. This milestone is a testament to our unyielding commitment and growing capabilities in the realm of space technology.”
He added: “At MBRSC, our vision encompasses the cultivation of an ecosystem of innovation and excellence, where partnerships with the private sector are instrumental in facilitating the exchange of knowledge, catalysing ground-breaking discoveries, and fostering the next generation of Emirati space pioneers. As we move forward, we remain guided by the spirit of innovation, and a firm determination to advance our nation’s role in contributing to global space exploration and technological growth.”
The state-of-the-art 12U modular satellite platform is carrying two partner technology payloads onboard, that includes an advanced IoT communication payload, developed by OQ Technology, a UAE-based start-up under MBRSC’s Space Ventures initiative which will enable data collection and transmission from IoT devices, utilising state-of-the-art 5G technology. The satellite is also carrying a revolutionary green propulsion subsystem developed by SteamJet from the United Kingdom, using water as its primary propellant, epitomising a sustainable approach to space propulsion.
Scheduled for a one-year operation, the PHI-Demo satellite will contribute immensely to the evolving landscape of space technology, fortifying MBRSC’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery and technological innovation. This successful launch further sets the stage for an exciting new chapter in space exploration, solidifying the UAE’s position as a vanguard of innovation and growth in the realm of space technology.
Over the coming days, the team at MBRSC will power on, activate and test the payloads, as it orbits above the UAE. MBRSC has partnered with Khalifa University and the American University of Ras Al Khaimah, for the command operations which will be handled from the ground stations located within the university campus, with the university’s faculty members leading the operation.
Zakaria Al Shamsi, Project Manager of the Payload Hosting Initiative, MBRSC, said: “The successful launch of PHI-Demo, complete with its advanced payloads, is a testament to the dedication and expertise of our Emirati engineers. The experience and insights garnered from PHI-Demo’s development and launch have equipped us with a profound understanding of the challenges that lay in our path and the strategies to overcome them. This knowledge, coupled with our unwavering resolve, gives us immense confidence as we gear up for future missions.”