The final design for the first satellite built entirely by Emiratis has been unveiled .
KhalifaSat, which is a project by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, will now enter the production phase with an anticipated launch in 2018. When launched, it will be used by municipalities for city planning, by the police department and for traffic management by the UAE's Roads and Transport Authority.
"We promised Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid we would be back in 10 years to start the project here and we came back in nine," Mohammed Al Hamri, director of the space operations department at MBRSC, said, according to The National .
Highlighting the importance of the completed design, the director-general of the space center Yousef Al Shaibani said "This significant milestone is an advanced step, not just in terms of the development of KhalifaSat, but reflects also on the satellite-manufacturing sector in the United Arab Emirates."
Back in 2006, a group of Emirati engineers traveled to South Korea where they worked on the development of DubaSat-1 and DubaiSat-2, the UAE's first satellites. In March of last year, the engineers returned to the UAE, building a 68-member local team that worked to complete the design for KhalifaSat.
According to Al Hamri, 90 percent of the engineers working on the project were graduates of Emirati universities. He voiced his hope that this achievement will encourage more Emirati youth to pursue careers in space technology.
"Students shouldn’t be intimidated by the fact that designing satellites is rocket science," Al Hamri said. "I thought I would have to get a degree in a specific field, but just getting any kind of engineering degree can lead you to space."
KhalifaSat will benefit the operations of the UAE's current satellites while also serving as an upgrade.
"Currently DubaiSat-2 passes over Dubai every morning, but KhalifaSat will orbit over us each afternoon, so if you are interested in gathering information on that time of day, say on traffic, then we’ll be able to provide that," team project manager Amer Al Sayegh. said
He explained that the new satellite's greater maneuverability will allow it to capture images of more than one area in a single pass.
"We used to have to wait four or five days to get images of the same area twice, but now that will be reduced to just one or two days," he said.