UAE and Airbus to build satellites in Abu Dhabi

11 August 2020

Abu Dhabi-based Tawazun Economic Council has joined forces with Airbus to set up an assembly, integration and testing centre for satellites.

The UAE University’s National Space Science and Technology Centre (NSSTC) is also partnering on the satellite centre which will produce small to medium-sized communication and navigation satellites.

The centre, which will be based in Al Ain, will also develop hyperspectral satellites to collect information from across the electromagnetic spectrum.

Operations are set to commence at the beginning of 2021 and procurement, installation and operational qualification required for the equipment will be managed by Airbus.

The UAE Space Agency is funding two projects that will be completed under the management and operation of NSSTC including a satellite that will augment navigational capabilities for the UAE and the Arab 813 Satellite, a Pan-Arab venture to monitor climate change.

Khaled Al Hashmi, director of NSSTC, said the UAE will soon have a fully autonomous satellite assembly and testing capability.

"The NSSTC will become the centre where the knowledge that Airbus has imparted will come together to support the UAE space sector," said Al Hashmi.

The UAE's space sector employs 3,000 people across 50 organisations, five space research and development centres and three universities offering space degrees.

Tawazun Economic Council, an industry enabler for the UAE’s defence and security sector, said the centre would lead to the creation of 32 new jobs - at least 22 of whom will be UAE nationals.

"The UAE is building and acquiring the knowledge required to become a regional hub for space activities and advanced research and development," said Matar Ali Al Romaithi, chief economic development officer of Tawazun.

"The space industry is an important and strategic sector for the UAE, as it enables the development of high-level skills and drives innovation," added Mikail Houari, president for Africa and Middle East at Airbus.

The move comes less than a month after the UAE's historic first mission to Mars lifted off from Japan.

On 19 July, the Hope probe launched on an H2-A rocket from Tanegashima spaceport and began a 500m km journey to study Mars’ weather and climate.

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