The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is preparing to launch the region’s most advanced imaging satellite next year. Named MBZ-Sat after President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, it has been developed at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai.
The 800-kg satellite will be carried into orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket as part of a SpaceX ride-share mission.
MBZ-Sat will be Middle East’s most advanced high-accuracy, high-resolution imaging satellite. It will monitor environmental changes, water quality, and support agricultural development. The goal is to strengthen the role of the space sector in achieving UAE’s environmental strategies.
The majority of the mechanical components (90%) and half of the electronic modules for MBZ-Sat have been built within UAE, supporting the country’s domestic space industry.
Five local companies, including Strata, EPI, Rockford Xellerix, Halcon, and Falcon Group, collaborated with MBRSC in manufacturing the satellite.
MBZ-Sat is expected to be three times more powerful than KhalifaSat, an Emirati-built satellite currently in operation. It will have an automated image scheduling and processing system, allowing it to produce ten times more images than the existing capabilities of the space center. Data transmission speed will be three times faster.
The structure, mechanical elements, and cabling harness for MBZ-Sat were developed in collaboration with Strata Manufacturing, Falcon, and Rockford Xellerix, respectively. The aluminum used in the satellite is globally the first to be produced using solar power, in partnership with Emirates Global Aluminum and Gulf Extrusions.
The successful development of previous Earth-observation satellites, DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2, contributed to the expertise needed for domestically-built satellites.
There is a growing focus in UAE to promote the private space sector. Government agencies like MBRSC and UAE Space Agency are involving more companies.
A fund of AED 3 billion ($816 million) has been launched to support startups and medium-sized businesses, while specialized economic zones for space activities are being launched.
Via The National