The first-ever Emirati-designed and made satellite, KhalifaSat, will be launched into space on Monday, 29th October 2018, marking a breakthrough for the national space industry. The total mass of the spacecraft is estimated to be some 330 kilogrammes, while it is two metres tall and less than 1.5 metres wide. The earth observation satellite was designed, tested and manufactured by a team of Emirati engineers and scientists at the Space Technology Laboratories of Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).
Millions of people across the world will watch the live launch of the first satellite fully manufactured in the UAE by a 70-member team of highly qualified young Emirati engineers, aged between 27 and 28 years. With the launch of KhalifaSat, the UAE will strengthen its position and competitiveness among the world’s leading countries in space technology manufacturing.
The development of KhalifaSat forms part of MBRSC’s long-term strategy in the UAE, to encourage innovation, stimulate technological progress, promote sustainable development, and create a generation of Emirati scientists and engineers who will contribute to the achievement of a scientific renaissance and take the initiative to launch ambitious space projects over the next few decades.
As one of the world’s most technologically advanced satellites, KhalifaSat will rocket into the skies at 8:00 AM (UAE local time) from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan, aboard an H-IIA rocket, which is seen as an important milestone for the country's space programme. This will be the third UAE satellite to be launched into space, after DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2. Work on KhalifaSat, the first satellite to ever be developed at MBRSC, began in 2013 after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, made an announcement on the space bid.
The launch of KhalifaSat will raise to nine the number of multi-purpose satellites so far placed into orbit by the UAE, with plans to launch 12 satellites by 2020, a significant milestone in the UAE’s quest to make the space industry one of the most dynamic and vital economic and investment sectors, with current estimated investment of AED22 billion.
Named after the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, KhalifaSat is one of the most technologically advanced remote-sensing observation satellites, with five patents registered. Once in orbit, KhalifaSat will provide high-quality detailed imagery for a variety of uses. It will send these images back to the ground station at MBRSC to serve the needs of government organisations and private-sector enterprises locally and globally, enabling the UAE to provide competitive services all over the world in the satellite imagery sector.
According to MBRSC, KhalifaSat is a source of inspiration for Emirati generations because it is the first satellite to be fully manufactured in the UAE and is one of the first creations of the advanced technology industry in the country. This project is also a reflection of MBRSC's strategy to encourage innovation and stimulate technological progress in the UAE.
The images provided by the satellite will be used in urban planning and management, ensuring the effective optimisation of land use and realistic infrastructure proposals. The images will also be used to develop detailed maps of targeted areas and monitor major engineering and construction projects. In the field of environmental protection, KhalifaSat will monitor environmental changes locally and internationally to support global efforts to preserve the environment. The satellite is expected to provide detailed imagery of the ice caps at the North and South Poles, helping to detect the effects of global warming.
When fixed at a Low Earth Orbit of approximately 613 kilometres, the KhalifaSat Camera System (KHCS) will capture detailed images capable of matching the highest industry standards for commercial imagery. The images use a ground sampling distance (GSD) of 0.7m Panchromatic and 2.98m GSD in four multi-spectral bands.
The KHCS is extremely sensitive, so it is protected from harmful radiation, sunlight and severe fluctuations in temperature by a Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer sun shield.
KhalifaSat is the result of MBRSC’s efforts to establish a specialised infrastructure and to support qualifying national talents capable of operating and leading advanced technological projects. Dozens of Emirati engineers have worked on this satellite, giving them practical experience and knowledge to serve the advanced technology industry in the UAE. The satellite payload contains scientific instruments and systems that are far more advanced than the previous two satellites, DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2. KhalifaSat will drive the UAE towards new projects in the field of space science and advanced technical science.
To provide high-resolution imagery of 0.7m in a Low Earth Orbit trajectory, KhalifaSat has been designed and manufactured with some of the most advanced instruments and components ever to be included in a satellite of its class. The development of the satellite is based upon the platform, heritage and foundations laid by DubaiSat-2, with upgrades to each component. The satellite bus is hexagonal and features four deployable solar panels.
The launch will bolster the UAE's ambitions to become a prominent regional centre for space research and programmes.
The UAE Space Agency noted that the space sector will take centre stage in the UAE’s development plans over the next 50 years, with the aim of increasing production, building a knowledge-driven economy, and creating a strong base for creativity and innovation. Space industries, including satellites and their multiple services, will be one of the main driving forces of economic growth in the UAE.