UAE announces 100% Emirati-made satellite project MBZ-SAT

The United Arab Emirates has announced a new satellite project called MBZ-SAT, which will become the second Emirati satellite to be fully developed and built by a team of Emirati engineers after KhalifaSat.

The satellite is being developed at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai and is expected to be launched in 2023. MBZ-SAT will be the most advanced commercial satellite in the region in the field of high-resolution satellite imagery.

The new satellite has been named after His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said: “The space sector is a key strategic sector that we strongly support, due to its role in improving the quality of life for people and providing humanity with innovative solutions for a better future.

“With the help of our national talent, we can raise the level of our ambitions and continue to support international efforts in the field of space science to serve the interests of both the region and the world.”

MBZ-SAT will be equipped with an automated system for arranging images around-the-clock, ensuring that it provides the highest quality standards of satellite images intended for commercial use globally. This project will strengthen the UAE’s partnerships in the space industry between the public and private sectors.

As the UAE’s fourth Earth observation satellite to be developed and launched by MBRSC, the project will strengthen the center’s efforts to expand its portfolio of imaging technologies and products for government agencies and commercial entities worldwide.

MBZ-SAT will contribute to meeting the growing commercial demand for high-resolution satellite images that will show details within an area of ​​less than one square metre.

After launching the satellite into low earth orbit, the ground station team at MBRSC, will analyze the data received from it, provide recommendations, high-resolution data and images to local and international entities.

The Center will offer rapid turnaround of captured data, sharing it to users. This imagery can support a wide variety of uses within mapping and analysis, environmental monitoring, navigation, infrastructure management and disaster relief efforts, to name a few.

The utility of satellite imagery in aiding and tackling natural disasters is in particular very important as they can help gauge the severity of the calamity, help plan relief efforts and aid in rebuilding efforts.

Features of MBZ-SAT

The 3m x 5m satellite, weighing in at around 700 kg, will improve image capture resolution by more than double what is capable in the previously-launched satellites. It will also increase the downlink data transmission speed by three times the current capacity. The fully-automated image scheduling and processing system of MBZ-SAT will also be able to produce more than 10 times the images the Centre produces currently.

Pre-approvals will be set in place to facilitate the automation process. Commercial and government entities will be able to place an order online for high-res imaging round the clock. The image processing and downloads can be completed in less than two hours from receiving the request, depending on the satellite’s location.

MBZ-SAT will be the first satellite capable of detecting a larger number of man-made as well as natural elements with a higher rate of precision and resolution, as compared with the current range of Earth observation satellites. Furthermore, the raw data gathered by the new satellite’s system will be able to process better AI functionality that can assist in quicker analysis and processing of satellite imagery.

Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, chairman, MBRSC, said: “We believe that sustainable partnerships and collaborative efforts between public and private players is the need of the hour.

“The wise leadership of the UAE has always believed in the exceptional possibilities provided by a constructive and future-oriented approach that enables the nation to advance through scientific and technological advancements.

“The announcement of the launch of the new satellite MBZ-SAT and its services is just a glimpse into what the future holds for the UAE. It is incumbent upon us, along with our partners, to work together to foster opportunities that contribute to the sustainable and inclusive growth of our nation.”