UAE plans to launch two navigation satellites
Image credit: The National

The United Arab Emirates is planning to launch a navigation satellite next year, aimed at demonstrating the country’s technological innovation. This will be done in two parts, with the first satellite launch in 2021, and the second one in 2022, according to local news reports.

“The first satellite will be launched in 2021, and the second – a technologically enhanced one – the following year“, said Dr Khaled Al Hashmi, Director of the National Space Science and Technology Centre (NSSTSC), in UAE University in Al Ain. 

He also said the navigation satellite would be the first project of the Satellite Assembly, Integration, and Testing (AIT) Centre. This institution is a collaborative effort, shouldered by Tawazun Economic Council, Airbus, and the NSSTC.

The navigation system that will come into force will not be put to use immediately. The function of this satellite is only to demonstrate UAE’s capabilities in the Space sector. 

Thirty-two new jobs are going to be created for these launches, and 22 of them will be for Emiratis. However, the cost of putting these two satellites into the atmosphere has not been revealed. 

UAE making its way into space tech

Navigation satellites are essential in making car and smartphone navigation services possible. These daily-use devices are aided by satellite imagery which allows them to pinpoint the location of an object. Macro efforts like surveying, probing, or disaster management also make use of these navigation satellites.

Currently, there exist four global navigation systems – GPS (USA), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (EU), and BeiDou (China) – and two local navigation systems – QZSS (Japan) and NavIC (India). 

The first fully Emirati-built satellite was the KhalifaSat, which was made in Dubai and launched in 2018. However, the UAE’s Space Program got its first satellite in 2009. It was called the Dubai Sat-1 and was launched with help from South Korea. 

The UAE Space Programme took a big leap forward this year, with the launch of its Mars Hope mission on July 20. It was helped by three American universities in the development process and was launched with the help of Japan. 

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