UAE launches $818mn National Space Fund to support the sector’s growth

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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UAE Space Agency
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The UAE Space Agency has launched a new $818 million national investment and development fund for the space sector, ‘The National Space Fund’.

The Fund will support groundbreaking new programs launched to support international and Emirati companies cooperating in leading-edge space sector engineering, sciences and research applications.

The first project to be launched to space under the Fund will be the development and launch of a constellation of advanced imaging satellites for the Emirates, using the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) technology. The constellation is to be named Sirb after the Arabic term for a flock of birds, and will address the critical need for better environmental and land usage monitoring, data collection and analysis to meet today’s global challenges.

The Fund will actively encourage partnerships between international and local enterprises, providing them with incentives as a part of the UAE Space Agency’s Space Economic Zones Program.

Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri
Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri
Minister of State for Advanced Technology
UAE Space Agency

“A long-term plan and program for the development of the Emirates’ space sector are in place to create economic opportunities, new jobs and help to fund global partnerships and new leaders in technology, space sciences and engineering here in the UAE. We are planning for a bright future filled with new challenges and openings for our young people, and this fund is precisely targeted at building opportunities for international cooperation in building Emirati enterprises.”

Mr. Salem Al Qubaisi, Director-General of the UAE Space Agency said that “The National Space Fund will encourage global partnerships to establish themselves here in the Emirates, providing new and vital technology platforms and development to answer the needs of the UAE Space Program and other global customers for vital innovation and technologies that answer the needs and possibilities of today’s world.”

The planned satellites will be able to create highly detailed and complex radar ‘images’ of land use, ice cover, surface changes and characterization, with a wide range of scientific, civil and commercial applications.

SAR technology combines the power of imaging satellites with cloud and ground penetrating capabilities that will open up applications from urban planning to archaeology and from weather prediction to atmospheric quality analysis and climate change mapping. Critically, the SAR radar-based technology can provide high-resolution images for remote sensing applications regardless of sunlight illumination and weather conditions.

The Sirb satellites will be built through a number of partnerships between the Emirati public and private sectors together with international players, with submissions being opened for a range of system integration, development and subsystem construction opportunities as part of the constellation development, launch, operation and commercialization plan.

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