SpaceX to launch UAE’s MBZ-SAT in 2023

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MBZ-SAT will be equipped with an automated system for arranging images round-the-clock, ensuring that it provides the highest quality standards of satellite images intended for commercial use globally…reports Asian Lite News

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) on Wednesday announced that it has selected SpaceX as launch provider to deliver MBZ-SAT, the most advanced commercial satellite in the region in the field of high-resolution satellite imagery, into space.

The second Emirati satellite to be fully developed and built by a team of Emirati engineers after the KhalifaSat will be launched on board SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. MBZ-SAT will be scheduled for launch toward the end of 2023 or at the beginning of 2024. Falcon 9 is a reusable, two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond.

SpaceX to launch UAE’s MBZ-SAT in 2023

“We are continually seeking to extend and diversify our ecosystem of partners, particularly in the strategically important area of launch partners,” said Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, Director-General, MBRSC.

“We are delighted to partner with SpaceX to deliver the MBZ-SAT into space as they offer the key attributes of readiness, reliability and technological expertise for this project. The launch of MBZ-SAT is only the first step to unlock future opportunities with SpaceX, and we look forward to utilising further technology developments and space resources with them.”

Tom Ochinero, SpaceX Vice President of Commercial Sales, said: “We’re honoured to support this mission, and we look forward to the successful launch of MBZ-SAT and many future projects.”

The 3m x 5m satellite, weighing in at around 700 kg, will improve image capture resolution by more than double what is capable in the previously launched satellites. It will also increase the downlink data transmission speed by three times the current capacity. The fully automated image scheduling and processing system of MBZ-SAT will also be able to produce more than 10 times the images the Centre produces currently.

MBRSC has over the years partnered with private companies in space technology and plans to further improve on this partnership to create a sustainable space sector in the UAE, thereby encouraging more space ready technology manufacturing, data studies as well as testing centres within the country.

Structure model, initial tests completed

MBRSC also announced that it has completed structure model and initial tests of MBZ-SAT, along with the completion of the engineering and Flatsat qualification module.

The team will now begin preparations to manufacture the flight model of MBZ-SAT.

MBZ-SAT, which is the second Emirati satellite to be fully developed and built by a team of Emirati engineers after the KhalifaSat, has been pivotal in supporting the local space industry, with 90% of the mechanical structure and 50% of the electronic modules being built in the UAE.

MBRSC has actively engaged with regional companies in the effort to build a local hub for space-related manufacturers, and has partnered with local companies to manufacture and supply the components of MBZ-SAT.

MBRSC had earlier revealed that it had partnered with Strata, a leading composite aero structures manufacturing company based in the UAE, to work jointly in developing local manufacturing capabilities for MBZ-SAT and with EPI, a leading precision engineering firm in the UAE, to produce parts for the satellite

 Furthermore, the Centre has partnered with Rockford Xellerix, a UAE-based embedded systems and wire harness connectivity solutions provider, to develop the space harness and with HALCON, a regional leader in the end-to-end manufacturing of precision-guided systems, for the development of specialised PCB assembly and rework of the satellite.

MBRSC has also partnered with Falcon Group, to develop the high-quality mechanical structure of MBZ-SAT, using aluminium and titanium.

“We are on track for the completion of MBZ-SAT as the teams have stepped up efforts to keep production on pace. The progress so far, illustrates the high level of skills and capabilities of our team of engineers and scientists, said Hamad AlShaibani.

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“The milestone further accelerates our satellite programme and catalyses our ambition to be at the forefront of the space sector, utilising technology developments and sharing space resources for the sake of humanity.”

”We have further extended our partnership with local firms, who have played an integral role in the progress of the project. This is in line with strengthening specialised national competencies, developing scientific and technical capabilities, spreading the culture of innovation and national pride as well as consolidating the role and position of the UAE in the space sector regionally and globally,” he added.

MBZ-SAT will be equipped with an automated system for arranging images round-the-clock, ensuring that it provides the highest quality standards of satellite images intended for commercial use globally. The satellite will improve image capture resolution by more than double what is capable in the previously launched system.

The MBZ-SAT will be the first satellite capable of detecting a larger number of man-made as well as natural elements with a higher rate of precision and resolution, as compared to the current range of Earth observation satellites.

Furthermore, the raw data gathered by the new satellite’s system will be able to process better AI functionality that can assist in quicker analysis and processing of satellite imagery.