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UAE to launch constellation of advanced imaging satellites with $817 million fund

The fund will support the space sector and encourage partnerships between UAE’s public and private sector firms as well as global companies.

[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

The UAE formed its space agency less than a decade ago, back in 2014, and since then, it has reached the Martian orbit and sent the nation’s first astronauts to space. The country has spent almost $6 billion on its space program and also manufactured its own satellite, the KhalifaSat. This year, Dubai’s Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) launched the world’s first nanosatellite to monitor and maintain the city’s water and power infrastructure.

On track to launch missions to the Moon, Venus, and the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the UAE has created a fund worth $817 million for the space sector. Under the National Space Fund, UAE will launch a satellite constellation that uses advanced remote sensing to capture images. The fund will support Emirati and global firms for research and engineering in the space sector.

With a vision to create jobs in the industry, partnerships between international and UAE-based space companies will be encouraged via incentives from the fund. The constellation of advanced radar satellites will be the first project under this initiative and will be named Sirb, which means a flock of birds in Arabic. The satellites will use synthetic aperture radar (SAR) tech to get clear images of land, ice cover, and surface changes through a combination of observations uninhibited by fog and cloud cover.

Unaffected by weather conditions and sunlight illumination, the satellite constellation will provide high-resolution images to facilitate weather predictions, climate mapping, and atmospheric quality analysis. The launch of Sirb satellites will be faster than before, accelerated by a joint effort between Emirati public and private firms.

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