Delegates at first Space conference hear UAE’s ambitious Mars landing and knowledge-building plans
The Dubai Airshow 2017 is looking to the future of flight beyond our atmosphere with the launch of the first Space Pavilion, supported by the UAE Space Agency, The Boeing Company and Orbital ATK.
Globally, the space industry is said to be worth US$300 billion, growing at 8% annually. The UAE’s investments in space technology currently exceeds US$5.4 billion (AED20 billion).
Alongside the Space Pavilion, the first Space Pavilion conference welcomed the global sector to join senior representatives of the UAE Space Agency, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Yahsat, Boeing, The GCAA, FAA and ICAO.
His Excellency Dr Ahmad Belhoul, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, and Chairman, UAE Space Agency, delivered a keynote address today at the conference, saying: “We have seen great interest in the airspace sector across this region, and now we are seeing more interest in space exploration. It’s a rapidly changing and expanding sector, which relies on partnerships and collaboration that is a key part of what we have been doing. We are proud to be members of numerous space organisations and groups, and especially to be hosting IAC 2020.”
“Working together is what is required, between governments and organisations, plus government and private businesses. We have great ambitions and expectations for a space agency which only began three years ago.”
The Minister said he has seen greater interest in students taking up technology and engineering subjects, but there was still a drive – as a major part of the UAE’s space programme, to encourage more students to study maths and science. At higher study levels HE Dr Belhoul said it is gratifying to see more students take up space-related subjects such as materials handling and renewable energy subjects.
Former astronaut Colonel A Worden, USAF-Retd, Command Module Pilot, Apollo 15, one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon and perhaps best known as America's first astronaut to perform a Deep Space EVA on the return from the Moon aboard Apollo 15 was in attendance at the conference where he was thanked by for his work in encouraging UAE students to take up STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education.
Dr Mohamed Al Junaibi, Executive Director of the UAE Space Agency, concurred with the Minister of State for Higher Education in the first conference panel, regarding the UAE’s Mars Mission. He said: “It’s been an exciting journey, and we are developing the space programme as an inspiration to the UAE youth. We invite all of the UAE youth to join us in taking up this great challenge.”
The Emirates Mars Mission, otherwise known as ‘Hope’ is slated to land on Mars in 2021.
Omran Sharaf, Project Manager, Emirates Mars Mission, MBRSC, said: “The programme is about exploration, and generating new information about Mars, but is also a driver for change, and a tool for education. ‘Hope’ sends a very strong message to the 100 million youth in the region. Around 800 years ago this was a region which generated knowledge and symbolised tolerance. Our President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, wants to send a clear message to the youth: if you can reach Mars, imagine how much more you can do!”
Mr. Sharaf suggested the road to becoming involved in the space programme was to take up STEM education (science, technology, engineering and maths), and that knowledge of these subjects would help youth become part of a much bigger, wider goal – to generate a region-wide creative, knowledge-based economy.
As well as a panel regarding the mission to Mars, the first day of the two-day conference featured a presentation from Yahsat on its connectivity solutions; Boeing delivering a talk on its involvement with NASA and the accelerated pace of space exploration; and technology concepts for evolution of the space sector.
Space-related exhibitors at the Dubai Airshow include Aistech, Bertin Technologies, Centre Nationale d’Etudes Spatiales, EPAC/Reshetnev and the Swedish Space Corporation.
The Dubai Airshow ends on Thursday, November 16 and this year includes many new features, including the UAS Summit, Cargo Zone and Airport Solutions.