The UAE Space Agency has launched a new AED3 billion ($817 million) national investment and development fund for the space sector.
Aptly named the National Space Fund, it will support groundbreaking new programs launched to support international and Emirati companies cooperating in the latest space sector engineering, science and research applications.
The Fund’s first investment will be in the development and launch of a constellation of advanced imaging satellites for the Emirates, using the SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) technology. The constellation is to be named Sirb after the Arabic term for a flock of birds, and will address the critical need for better environmental and land usage monitoring, data collection and analysis to meet today’s global challenges.
The planned satellites will be able to create highly detailed and complex radar images of land use, ice cover, surface changes and characterization, with a wide range of scientific, civil and commercial applications.
Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency said, "SAR technology leapfrogs traditional imaging satellites, providing more powerful imaging using X-band radar technologies."
SAR technology combines the power of imaging satellites with cloud and ground penetrating capabilities that will open up applications from urban planning to archaeology, and from weather prediction to atmospheric quality analysis as well as climate change mapping. Critically, the SAR radar-based technology can provide high-resolution images for remote sensing applications, regardless of sunlight illumination and weather conditions.
The six-year satellite development program will see the first satellite launch in three years, a much faster time to launch than was possible using traditional earth observation satellite design principles. The Sirb satellites will be built through several partnerships between the Emirati public and private sectors together with international players. Submissions will be open for a range of system integration, development and subsystem construction opportunities and as part of the constellation development, launch, operation and commercialization plan.
Apart from addressing critical human needs for more wide-ranging data, the Sirb constellation provides a private sector opportunity that bridges the gap between the Emirates Mars Mission and the upcoming Beyond Mars Mission to Venus and the Main Asteroid Belt, due to launch in 2028.
Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri added, "We are planning for a bright future filled with new challenges and openings for our young people – and this fund is precisely targeted at building opportunities for international co-operation in building Emirati enterprises."
Meanwhile, Salem Al Qubaisi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, said, "The National Space Fund will encourage global partnerships to establish themselves here in the Emirates, providing new and vital technology platforms and development to answer the needs of the UAE Space Programme and other global customers for vital innovation and technologies that answer the needs and possibilities of today’s world."