UAE’s NewSpace Innovation Program: Know the participants and their innovative offerings

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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UAE Mars Mission
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The UAE has been in high spirits since it successfully launched the Hope Probe, despite the crisis caused by the pandemic and many other obstacles.

Now the nation is on a quest to find its own Elon Musk with a new program to transform space project concepts into entrepreneurial start-ups. This initiative, helps local entrepreneurs join a lively global race of the private sector

To be a part of the UAE NewSpace Innovation Program, run by the UAE Space Agency and start-up incubator Krypto Labs, four teams have been chosen.

The three-month-long project is worth millions and is currently in the incubation process, where the teams are connected to mentors, investors, clients and potential partners from space and related fields.

Space operations have been government-run for decades, but with innovative technology and advancements, private companies are making their mark. Billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX has recently become the first private enterprise to fly spaceflights with humans.

The 4 participants chosen for the program have their own unique thoughts and offerings that have the potential to take UAE to the next level in its space endeavors.

‘Noise-free’ satellite sensors – Zaid Al Rayyes

Canadian-national Zaid Al Rayyes has invented sensors which send and receive noise-free signals to help improve the quality of satellite output.

Companies currently use common sensors in spacecraft, such as inertial measurement units and microelectromechanical devices, which produce noisy data which are further complicated by interference from space magnetic disturbances. Then the data is filtered on the ground by engineers using software- which is an expensive and time-consuming process.

Rayyes, a mechanical engineer is looking to reinvent the sensors used in satellites by combining concepts in chemistry with machine dynamics.

Cheaper solar panels for spacecraft – Hamad Saif Alteneiji

Emirati engineer, Hamad Saif Alteneiji, has invented solar panels which he said would cost half the price of current technology and is also easier to develop.
These solar panels produce energy from the sun using the ‘Light Trapping Dynamic Photovoltaic Module’ process.

The light trapping is accomplished by inserting strips of solar reflector within module glasses. Their purpose is to trap sunlight within the photovoltaic module lenses and establish the concentration of internal light. It leads to a reduction of up to 50% on the cost of solar cells, thus reducing the total cost by up to 40%.

The technology has a dynamic response function which includes internal cells that protect the solar panels against any internal or external damage. A passive heat dissipation system also exists that uses metallic solar reflective strips to transform internal waste heat into usable energy – potentially extending a spacecraft’s lifespan.

Using artificial intelligence for better images – Mustafa Alhashmi

In 2015, Mustafa Alhashmi launched a start-up named Smart Navigation Systems which is run by engineers from Emirati.

The business is part of the Hub71 development program at Abu Dhabi and has now become part of the NewSpace Innovation initiative at the UAE.

Mr. Alhashmi said his company uses artificial intelligence to provide remote sensing services.

He said his remote sensing technology can deliver satellite imagery that can be used by authorities to prepare and recover from disaster mitigation, coastal change monitoring, building permit verification, post-COVID-19 impact calculation, among others.

Mini satellites for better urban planning – CubeSats-micro-satellites

Another team is presenting a group of mini Earth observation satellites that will constantly gather data about the area of the Middle East and North Africa.

It will use a Synthetic Aperture Radar, a technology that offers satellite images in a 2 or 3-D version. The product is useful for urban planning to the municipalities.

CubeSats-micro-satellites, in the size of box-are gaining popularity in the UAE, particularly among university students who, with the support of the space agency, develop and launch them. The systems are much cheaper than traditional satellites and remain in the low orbit.

These inventions hold immense potential and will definitely help UAE to improve the country’s scientific temperament that began with the Mars Mission.