Tag Archives: UAE

UAE announces manned spaceflight plans

The new colonial movement: The United Arab Emirates has announced their plans to establish an astronaut corps that would fly on the manned spacecraft of other nations.

The first of those astronauts would fly by the end of 2021, the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. “We have not decided on who will be flying us yet,” he said. “We do envisage that we partner up with all of the major space agencies, somehow and in some structure.”

There would be several options for the UAE to choose from, including Soyuz flights by Russia to the International Space Station and Shenzhou flights to a Chinese space station slated to be completed by the early 2020s. Other options include flights on commercial crew vehicles being developed by Boeing and SpaceX.

To me, the really exciting aspect of this is that the UAE is now a new customer looking for a means to get its people into space, which makes all those manned programs, including the American private companies, competitors for that business.

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UAE announces its second student space competition

The United Arab Emirates space center in charge of its Mars mission has announced its second student competition for designing future missions to Mars.

Explore Mars Competition targets university undergraduate students in science or engineering disciplines. The students will need to propose an innovative mission design to Mars and highlight a novel approach in either engineering design or in the science mission. The competition is geared towards identifying and solving a scientific or engineering challenge in planetary exploration.

The competition is divided into two categories, the first is focused on introducing a scientific project, and the second focuses on developing an idea to design a mission to Mars. Students who are interested in the first category about Mars Science can suggest a topic related to the Martian atmosphere or Mars geology. Furthermore, in Mars mission category, topics can address unique concepts and designs for space missions to Mars, new designs for scientific instruments for Mars science, or innovative spacecraft.

This is the second year in the row they have run such a contest. The winners for the first contest are supposed to be revealed at a science conference in late September.

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A look at UAE’s space program, its overall goals and its Mars probe Hope

Link here. Much of what this article discusses, the use of space to help diversify the UAE’s economy, have already been noted previously by this same site and linked to by me in an earlier post. However, the article also provides some details about the scientific mission of their Mars Hope probe, set to launch in 2020.

[Hope, or the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM)] will be the first probe to study Martian climate through the daily and seasonal cycles. It will explore the connection between the upper and lower atmosphere, study the events in the lower atmosphere such as changes in temperature and dust storms, and how they affect the upper atmosphere in the following days or weeks.

It will also seek to answer some of the key questions that we have about Mars such as why the planet is losing its atmosphere to space, by tracking the behaviour of hydrogen and oxygen, which are the building blocks of water. With the discovery of periodical water on the surface of the Red Planet, Hope will be able to answer if the source of the Martian water is from the atmosphere. This research will create the first global image of weather on Mars during the days, weeks, months, and years, adding a new dimension to human knowledge on how the Red Planet’s atmosphere really works.

Overall, it appears that the primary goal so far has been to train engineers in the building of satellites. This is a good thing, and you have to start somewhere, but the UAE nonetheless has a big hill to climb before it can compete in the global satellite market.

Note too that it appears that all the investment capital for this effort is coming from the Emirates’ leadership. If one of those newly trained engineers wanted to form their own company, would he or she be allowed to obtain capital elsewhere, thus becoming a truly independent and competing operation? I suspect not, which means that this will limit the long term diversification of this industry, despite that being the UAE’s number one goal.

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A detailed look at the UAE’s national space policy

Link here. The overall goals appear smart and worthwhile. They suffer from only one problem: This is a top-down policy, with the government attempting to drag the society forward in a specific direction. The direction might be a good one, but generally such efforts have limited success.

This paragraph meanwhile reveals the influence U.S. policy is having:

Effective and Attractive Space Regulatory Environment – The third enabler recognizes the need to incorporate and develop domestic space laws and regulations. These laws and regulations will be required to increase transparency, effectiveness, and resilience, and also provide protection of intellectual property rights as well as provide insurance policies and facilities for various private space activities. The legal and regulatory environment created through the third enabler will simplify the sharing of appropriate data and information to support value-added industries. The environment envisioned by the third enabler will strive to require the minimum regulatory burden on commercial space activities to enable the UAE to comply with its domestic and international legal obligations. That another country like the UAE might offer a more effective and attractive foreign legal and regulatory environment has been used to great effect in lobbying efforts in the United States and has prompted the both the House and Senate to reevaluate the U.S. commercial space licensing scheme. [emphasis mine]

I have highlighted the key phrases. The first illustrates the recognition that less government regulation is best, a variation of the basic American idea of freedom. The second notes the importance of competition. Just as Congress is rewriting its space laws to make it easier for U.S. citizens and companies to compete in space, the UAE recognizes that it must do the same.

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Dubai of the UAE and its push for science, space, and technology

Link here. The article provides some context for the various stories I have posted recently about the UAE’s ambitions in both space and other hi-tech projects.

They are without doubt thinking big, and the article gives their effort a strong positive spin. However, this quote seemed significant to me:

If Dubai’s future is as a knowledge hub, it will have to fulfill the dreams of more than just the Emiratis. With rare exceptions, only they are allowed to be citizens, and since visas are based on employment, deportation isn’t so much an extreme consequence as an everyday worry. That may have mattered less to the Emiratis when labor was expendable. But to compete for global talent, Dubai needs to transform from a transitory polyglot society to a permanently cosmopolitan one—an ambition that has become a talking point of Sheikh Mohammed. “The uniqueness of Dubai is the fact that it is a melting pot of the world’s cultures, ethnicities, and minds in one city,” he said in a statement.

Al Gergawi acknowledges the challenge of that transition in his own vague way. “I’m saying we’re not perfect,” he says. “We are young kids on the block, if you look at the block as the world. Every day we say: ‘How can we improve? How can we move to the next step in every single aspect?’”

Maybe it is necessary to grade Dubai on a curve. By the standards of a liberal democracy, Dubai remains retrograde. There is no democratic representation, poor freedom of the press, and homosexuality remains illegal. But compared with the rest of the Arab world, Dubai is a beacon of openness and modernity. Thirty percent of the cabinet members are female (compared with 0 percent in Saudi Arabia and 6 percent in Jordan), as is 66 percent of the government workforce.

Then there was this quote, by Sarah Amiri, the 30-year-old science lead for the UAE’s Mars mission, dubbed Hope.

“We get told by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed that the most important part is the scientists and engineers who are going to come out of this,” she explains. Accordingly, the mission staff skews young. Everyone is under 35, the average age is 27, and 30 percent are female. Amiri speaks passionately about inspiring the youth of the Arab world. “We need to give them monumental challenges to solve.” [emphasis mine]

“Get told.” This is still a top-down society. Sheikh Mohammad might have wonderful dreams, but such dreams cannot easily be imposed on a society by one man. I remain skeptical, though I readily admit that they have done remarkably well in a very short period of time.

At the same time, I cannot help wondering if they would welcome any Israeli scientists or engineers. Somehow I doubt it, no matter how much they claim that they are a melting pot.

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UAE reveals details on its 100 year Mars colonization plan

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has unveiled some of the reasoning behind its plan to colonize Mars by 2117, including an overall outline of its long term approach.

“In the UAE, we live in a rough neighborhood,” Al Gergawi added. “Our neighborhood has over 100 million youth, with over 35 percent unemployment.”

This high rate of youth unemployment in the region has a well-known negative impact such as radicalisation and even terrorism, Al Gergawi explained. One of the rationales for the Mars 2117 programme, however, is to turn the circumstances of young people in the Middle East into a positive impact that engages them in meaningful goals involving education in science and technology. “This is the impact we’re betting on,” said Al Gergawi. “We want to enable the youth to play an active role in advancing the global efforts toward enhancing the Red Planet and other planetary bodies.”

…“The Mars 2117 Project is a long term project, where our first objective is to develop our educational system so our sons will be able to lead scientific research across the various sectors. The UAE became part of a global scientific drive to explore the space, and we hope to serve humanity through this project,” Abu Dhabi Crown Prince His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan added.

I wish them well. The aims and approach seem to be right, though the hill they need to climb is quite steep.

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The UAE plan to tow an iceberg from Antarctica for drinking water

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a project to tow an iceberg more than 5,500 miles from Antarctica in order to provide that arid nation drinking water for about five years.

The National Advisor Bureau, headquartered in Masdar City, Abu-Dhabi, plans to source the massive blocks of ice from Heard Island, around 600 miles (1000 kilometres) off the coast of mainland Antarctica. It will then transport them around 5,500 miles (8,800 km) to Fujairah, one of the seven emirates which make up the UAE. One iceberg could provide enough for one million people over five years, according to the company.

And the scheme could begin as early as the start of 2018.

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UAE and Algeria sign space accord

The space agencies of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Algeria have signed an agreement to enhance their collaboration in space.

The MoU defines a framework for collaboration in the peaceful use of space, in line with the UAE Space Agency’s strategic plans to enhance collaboration with international stakeholders in the sector. The MoU covers various aspects of the peaceful use of outer space, as well as collaboration in the fields of policy-making, regulations, space science, technology, and human capital development in the space sector.

I didn’t even know Algeria had a space agency.

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A Kuwaiti space agency?

The competition heats up: At least one scientist in Kuwait, after attending a conference where the UAE’s space effort was highlighted, thinks her country should form its own space agency also.

Establishing a space agency/program is not a fantasy, it is the way of the future, which will bring numerous economic and scientific benefits, Assistant Professor at the Physics Department of Kuwait University (KU) Dr. Hala Al-Jassar said during an interview with Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

While attending the recently held Abu Dhabi Space Congress, Dr. Al-Jassar said that she was amazed and intrigued by one of the participants’ contributions to the event. The participant laid out that the ingredients of a successful space program, which must include strong leadership, a sizable budget, available talents, and thorough training programs, said the academic.

“We have the budget, the talents, the expertize, and outstanding graduates from the best universities,” said Dr. Al-Jassar who pointed out that the lack of clear leadership was one of the main challenges for the establishment of a space agency.

Isn’t competition wonderful? One Arab country in the Middle East puts together a space program, and now others wish to follow. It is almost like night follows day. It has to happen.

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UAE proposes building Martian city within a century

The competition heats up? The United Arab Emirates announced on Tuesday its plan to construct a city on Mars and have it completed by 2117, a hundred years from now.

On Tuesday, at the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai, the UAE announced that it was planning to build the first city on Mars by 2117. According to CNBC, UAE engineers presented a concept city at the event about the size of Chicago for guests to explore.

In a statement, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and vice president of the UAE, sounded confident about the project. “Human ambitions have no limits, and whoever looks into the scientific breakthroughs in the current century believes that human abilities can realize the most important human dream,” Maktoum said.

And despite the grandiose nature of the idea, the 100-year-plan does emphasize some practical steps. “The Mars 2117 Project is a long-term project,” Maktoum explained in the statement, adding that the first order of business would be making space travel appeal to young Emiratis, with special programs in space sciences being set up at universities in the UAE.

Maktoum is the guy that pushed to create the UAE’s space agency, and is leading its effort to fly an unmanned mission to Mars by 2020. It is very clear that his goal is to inspire his country and its youth so that they will aim high in future years. I wish him well, as this is a far better goal for an Islamic nation than sending out suicide bombers to kill innocent people.

I must add that I remain very skeptical about this particular plan. I fully expect us to finally get to Mars in the next century, but whether we will have the ability to build cities there in that time frame remains questionable.

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UAE considers initiating its own manned space program

The competition heats up: At a space conference this week in Abu Dhabi, a UAE official said that his country might begin work on a manned space program.

He also said that they plan a follow-up to their Hope Mars mission, which now has a July 2020 launch date.

The UAE’s prime goal right now with their space effort is to promote the development of a new aerospace industry. Thus, I do not expect them to accomplish much in the near future. Even their Mars mission is I think mostly being built and launched by others (India is helping with the spacecraft and Japan is launching it). In the long term, however, this effort is wise, and will eventually produce for them a real industry.

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UAE’S 2020 Mars mission still on schedule

The first Mars mission by the United Arab Emirates, dubbed Hope, is still be on schedule for its 2020 launch, according to the mission’s project manager.

Omran Sharaf said: “The mission has been on track so far. We’ve completed the PDR — Preliminary Design Review — and hopefully we’ll hold the CDR [Critical Design Review] soon.” His comments came during his presentation on ‘How Could the UAE Get to Mars?’ on the second and final day of the [Project Space] forum, held at Dubai World Trade Centre for the first time. Project Space is held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai. Shaikh Hamdan is the chairman of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), organiser of Project Space.

During Wednesday’s talk on EMM, Sharaf added that “the system design has been completed … and we’re starting to work on the engineering models of the mission. So this is the current phase of the mission”.

Like most stories about space coming from the UAE, they spend more time listing the titles of the bigwigs running the project than providing much specific information about the project itself. I remain skeptical they can pull this off.

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UAE to issue national laws to facilitate space tourism and exploration

The competition heats up: At a ceremony announcing the space policy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the head of the UAE’s space agency announced that, even as their 2020 unmanned Mars mission moves forward, they are also formulating regulations in order to encourage future space activity.

He said regulations are very important to facilitate space tourism. “You can’t have space tourism without space laws. We will address this.” For example, liability in the event of a problem is determined by the law. The UAE will issue laws regulating the space sector within a few months, he said. The laws will facilitate the UAE’s ambitious Mars Mission in 2020.

He said technology alone is not enough for all space-related activities. The laws are essential to undertake all such projects. “We can’t launch the Mars probe without (relevant) laws.” Once technology is available, regulation is the important element to use it, Al Ahbabi said. He said the draft law was ready, which would be submitted for approval of the council of ministers very soon.

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UAE sheikh okays next phase in Mars mission

The competition heats up: The Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has approved the start of construction of the prototypes for the UAE’s Mars Mission, dubbed Hope.

Sheikh Mohammed gave the greenlight to start manufacturing the probe’s prototypes, the Arab world’s first Mars probe. The project places the UAE with the nine countries that aim to explore Mars. His Highness said: “UAE ambitions is to explore the outer space. We are investing in our national cadres to lead this project and contribute in expanding our knowledge about Mars. Hope Probe is a qualitative leap for UAE’s scientific efforts, it the first contribution for the Arab world in this regard”.

Sheikh Mohammed’s remarks came while visiting the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) to open the second phase of the UAE satellite manufacturing and assembly complex, a multitasking facility capable of handling several space projects at a time.

It will be very interesting to see how this top-down mission proceeds, as it is being pushed heavily by the sheikh in a country with almost no experience in building such things.

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UAE adopts a national space policy

The competition heats up: The cabinet of the United Arab Emirates has adopted a national space policy for the Arab nation.

This push by the UAE to become a major player in space is being entirely led by, to quote the story at the link, the “Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.” His effort is a good thing, but in many ways a hollow gesture. The UAE does not yet have the people or the infrastructure for its own space program. What they have is a lot of oil money, which will allow them to buy those skills from others. This is what they are doing for their Mars probe that they hope to launch in 2020.

Whether the skills will then remain within the UAE remains questionable.

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NASA and United Arab Emirates sign space cooperation deal

The competition heats up (but not in the way you think): NASA and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) space agency have signed an agreement to cooperate in space research and technology development.

The agreement covers cooperation and collaboration in space science, operational Earth observation and Earth science, aeronautics, space operations and exploration, education, technology, safety and mission assurance, and other areas with potential benefits to all nations.

The two countries will continue to identify additional areas of mutual interest for possible future cooperative programs or joint activities on Earth, in airspace, or in outer space. These activities may include the joint use of aircraft, scientific instruments aboard spacecraft, ground-based research facilities, spacecraft and space research platforms, as well as ground-based antennas for tracking, telemetry, and data acquisition. Additionally, the two countries will aim to collaborate on the creation and implementation of education and public outreach programs and joint workshops, with the goal of facilitating the exchange of scientific data, scientists, engineers, and views and experiences on relevant regulatory frameworks and standards.

The competition here is not between these big space government programs, who are increasingly teaming up, but between the big space government programs and the profitable and uncontrolled private sector. I fully expect there to be more calls for government supervision and licensing of private space, just to control it better. And what better way to leverage that control but to link every big space program in the world together, so that there are no independent efforts?

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United Arab Emirates teams up with Japan

The new colonial movement: The United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA) has signed a cooperative agreement with Japan’s space agency JAXA.

The details are slim, but I suspect it is similar to the recent UAE/India deal and involves the UAE providing some of its oil money in exchange for getting some of Japan’s technical help.

Update: My suspicions were correct. UAESA has purchased launch services from Japan Mitsubishi for its Mars mission, dubbed Hope, scheduled for launch in 2020.

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India and UAE to ink Mars project deal

The competition heats up: India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) plan to sign two deals today, one of which will lead to the first Arab Mars mission.

It appears that India will help UAE build its first mission to Mars, using the technology they developed for Mangalyaan. In exchange, the second deal will bring up to $75 billion of UAE investment capital into India.

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UAE establishes space agency

The competition heats up: The United Arab Emirates (UAE), in conjunction with its goal to send an unmanned probe to Mars, has announced the formation of its own NASA-like space agency.

Reading the long official press announcement at the link above will make you realize that a lot of this is public relations fluff being pushed by the UAE’s sheiks. Stripping that away, what I find left is mostly a program to educate students.

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The plans for the first Arab probe to Mars revealed

The competition heats up: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday unveiled its plans for its first unmanned mission to Mars, dubbed al-Amal (“Hope”).

They hope to launch by 2020.

Forgive me if I am skeptical. Unlike India, which just succeeded in doing this, the UAE has no history or background in space exploration. India has been building satellites for decades. It has its own rockets. It had already launched a successful mission to the Moon. The UAE has done none of this yet. They are starting from ground zero.

Then again, one has to start somewhere.

This UAE effort illustrates again what I call the new colonial movement, where nations across the globe are increasingly pushing to participate in the exploration of space, because they realize that if they don’t, they will get left behind by their neighbors. Whether or not UAE succeeds, their decision to enter the competition proves the competition exists, and such a competition can only add energy to the effort to colonize the solar system.

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A drone that flies in a protective cage wins million dollar prize

The competition heats up: A privately developed drone called Gimball that flies inside a protective cage so that it is not harmed by obstacles and is also not a threat to nearby humans was named the first prize winner, worth $1 million, in a United Arab Emirates (UAE) dorne competition.

Amazing video of the working Gimball drone prototype below the fold. It is a brilliant concept, and is without doubt going to revolutionize the use of drones in numerous ways. Expect all drones to soon have similar protective cages as well.
» Read more

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Identification of unknown airstrikes in Libya revealed

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have admitted they launched combined air strikes in Libya this past week.

There are two aspects of this story that are significant. First:

Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said. It is almost as if the theme of ignoring and/or mocking US superpower status exhibited most recently by both China and Russia, is gradually spreading to even the more “banana” republics around the world. Because, while one can debate the pros and cons of any previous administration, it is very much improbable that any regime, especially ones as close to the US as the UAE, and to a lesser extent Egypt, would have conducted such military missions without preclearing with the Pentagon first.

Desperate to stop radical Islamists from taking over Libya, Egypt and UAE made the decision to act without U.S. involvement, on their own. They no longer felt obliged to get our advice, or even tell us what they intended to do.

Second, the air strikes illustrate how the Middle East is becoming increasingly destabilized. The U.S. is seen as weak and unwilling to act. Thus, the radicals move to grab power, and the status quo elites feel compelled to respond.

As long as Barack Obama is in power, expect this unstable situation to become even more unstable. When we occupied Iraq we brought stability and the promise of civilized rule of law. Until recently that stability was held together by either our presence or the belief that we would return if things got out of hand. Now everyone in the Middle East knows the U.S. will do nothing, no matter what happens. They are on their own. And the crazies are moving to take advantage of our absence to bring chaos to the region.

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The UAE wants to go to Mars

The competition heats up: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced today that it is creating a space agency to build and launch an unmanned mission to Mars by 2021.

The announcement included this statement by his Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai:

Despite all the tensions and the conflicts across the Middle East, we have proved today how positive a contribution the Arab people can make to humanity through great achievements, given the right circumstances and ingredients. Our region is a region of civilisation. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilise. We chose the epic challenge of reaching Mars because epic challenges inspire us and motivate us. The moment we stop taking on such challenges is the moment we stop moving forward.

I wish them luck, since building spaceships and exploring the heavens is a far better occupation that trying to kill Jews. I remain skeptical however. They will have to show real achievement before I will believe this is something more than a simple feel-good public relations stunt by the UAE’s leaders.

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“Our spaceships to fly from here to Abu Dhabi to New Mexico in no more than an hour.”

“Our spaceships to fly from here to Abu Dhabi to New Mexico in no more than an hour.”

The suggestion from this story is that not only will Virgin Galactic fly suborbital tourism flights out of Abu Dhabi, but the deal includes an effort to turn SpaceShipTwo into a transportation vehicle as well. Most interesting.

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