Middle East Space Roundup: 2 to 8 July 2023
A summary of all the space news in the Greater Middle East over the past week, powered by AzurX
The following are the major space developments in the Greater Middle East region tracked by Middle East Space Monitor over the past week:
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UAE’s DEWA Unveils In-House Satellite Gateway As Part Of Its Space-D Programme
The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has unveiled its in-house developed gateway as part of the Space-D programme, which connects terrestrial sensors to satellites and ground networks. The gateway is equipped with various physical and operational technology (OT) connectivity options and Internet of Things (IoT) edge protocol libraries, supporting IoT communication networks like LoRa, Wi-Fi, and BLE. Designed for diverse industrial applications, the device offers long battery life for LoRa protocols and LoRaWAN connectivity, reducing device and operational costs. It complies with international IoT device security standards and was fully designed, fabricated, and tested at DEWA's Research and Development (R&D) Centre. DEWA aims to enhance its operations, support digitisation efforts, and strengthen the space sector in the UAE through the integration of nanosatellite technology and terrestrial IoT communication networks. DEWA has previously developed nanosatellites, making it the first utility to utilise them for electricity and water network maintenance and planning.
Egyptian And French Presidents Discuss Reconnaissance Satellite Deal
During an official visit to Paris, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi met with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss various strategic matters. The discussions covered geopolitical issues, armament deals, and future cooperation between Egypt and France. According to Tactical Report, one of the key topics of conversation was the ongoing negotiations between the Egyptian Ministry of Military Production and Airbus for the procurement of a military Earth observation satellite. President Macron expressed his assurance that acquiring this satellite would facilitate advanced technology transfer agreements in areas such as cyber espionage, electronic warfare, and electronic defence against shared threats. The satellite will also enable smooth data synchronisation between the two countries during joint security operations.
UAE In Discussion With U.S. And European Companies To Acquire Joint All Domain Command Control System
The UAE is currently engaged in discussions with U.S. and European defence companies regarding Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and C4ISR systems, including communications and Earth observation satellites, according to Tactical Report. Retired Major General Khalid Abdullah Al-Buainain Al Mazroeui, the Advisor at the Office of the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, is overseeing some of these talks and reviewing the offers received. The UAE is particularly in talks with U.S. officials to clarify the U.S. policy on exporting JADC2 and C4ISR systems. Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed and U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan are involved in the discussions. Major General Al Mazroeui is optimistic about reestablishing contacts with Lockheed Martin for the DIAMONDShield C2 system and indicates a preference for U.S. JADC2 solutions. While European companies like Airbus and Thales offer multi-domain combat cloud systems, Thales is seen as the better candidate to provide a certified defence cloud solution. However, U.S. companies are still held in higher regard in the JADC2 space compared to Thales.
Turkish Space Agency Becomes Stakeholder In NASA’s Space Apps Challenge Hackathon
The Turkish Space Agency (TUA) has become a stakeholder in NASA's Space Apps Challenge-International Space Applications Competition, which has been organised for 11 years. Alongside important space agencies such as the European Space Agency (ESA), the event aims to generate open-source solutions to global and space-related challenges and collaboratively address problems. Minister of Industry and Technology Mehmet Fatih Kacır emphasised Türkiye's National Space Programme and stated that TUA is now part of this significant organisation with over 30,000 participants. Kacır highlighted Türkiye's ambition to establish a presence in the global space community and praised the competition for fostering cooperation and potential in solving difficulties on Earth and in space. By partnering with NASA through TUA, Türkiye can benefit from their expertise while sharing their own space projects and experiences. Kacır emphasized Türkiye's commitment to ambitious goals in the National Space Programme and stated that they will continue to invest in space technologies. The NASA Space Apps Challenge is an international hackathon that spans over 48 hours, bringing together coders, scientists, designers, storytellers, technologists, and anyone curious to tackle challenges in Earth and outer space. The event encourages creativity, critical thinking, and promotes interest in Earth and space science and exploration, nurturing the growth and diversity of future scientists, technologists, designers, and engineers.
Egypt’s EgyptSat-2 Earth Observation Satellite To Be Launched From China In October 2023
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly met with the CEO of the Egyptian Space Agency (EgSA), Sherif Sedky, to discuss the progress of the agency's work, including the upcoming launch of the EgyptSat-2 Earth observation satellite (also called MisrSat-2) in October 2023. Sedky informed the Prime Minister that the EgyptSat-2 satellite will be launched from China and highlighted that it aims to achieve several sustainable development goals. He provided updates on the latest developments in the testing of the satellite, which has been conducted at the Assembly, Integration, and Testing (AIT) centre at the agency's headquarters in the New Administrative Capital. These tests include electrical tests, dynamic load simulation tests, electromagnetic harmonic tests, and space environment simulation tests. Sedky emphasised the valuable experience gained by Egyptian personnel through their collaboration with Chinese experts in conducting these operations domestically. He also highlighted the benefits of the project, such as the confidence it instills in the AIT centre, attracting regional countries to utilise the centre for assembling and testing similar satellites. Moreover, Sedky mentioned the Egyptian team's successful involvement in designing and manufacturing a local component for an experimental communications unit and their participation in assembling satellite models at the centre.
Egypt Participates In China-Africa Cooperation Centre on Satellite Remote Sensing Applications
Space in Africa reports that the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) of China has inaugurated the China-Africa Cooperation Centre on Satellite Remote Sensing Application, signifying a major milestone in the collaboration between China and Africa in utilising remote sensing technologies for sustainable natural resource development. The programme, jointly organized by China's Land Satellite Remote Sensing Application Centre, the National Satellite Ocean Application Service, and the MNR, aims to establish a data-sharing platform and conduct remote sensing monitoring of natural resources in African coastal zones, with a particular focus on mangrove remote sensing monitoring and ocean-related application services. The launch event was attended by delegates from various African countries, including Egypt, who actively implement remote sensing technologies to address socioeconomic challenges and enhance sustainable development efforts. Notably, Dr. Emmanuel Nkurunziza, the Director General of the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) headquartered in Kenya, highlighted the critical need for global collaboration and commended the partnership between RCMRD and China's Land Satellite Remote Sensing Application Centre (LASAC), which has facilitated improved access to remote sensing data and actionable intelligence for informed decision-making. The Executive Chairman of the Egyptian Space Agency (EgSA), Dr. Sherif Sedky, also highlighted the strategic collaboration between Egypt and China in space and emphasized the upcoming launch of the earth observation satellite, MisrSat-2 (also called EgyptSat-2).
Algeria Hosts Russia’s Roscosmos For Space Talks
Space in Africa also reports that the director general of the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, led a delegation to visit the Centre for the Exploitation of Space Telecommunications Systems (CEST) in Algeria. The purpose of the visit was to discuss the implementation of the government agreement on space exploration and the peaceful use of outer space between Algeria and Russia. The agreement establishes the framework for bilateral cooperation in space activities and covers various aspects such as intellectual property protection, information exchange, export control, and collaborative efforts. During the visit, a ceremony was held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first crewed space flight, where a bust of the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was unveiled. Russia is committed to supporting and participating in African space-related activities, and CEST, as part of the Algeria Space Agency (ASAL), plays a crucial role in managing and operating telecommunications satellite products and services under the national space programme, as well as providing technical support and executing marketing strategies.
Chairman Of Saudi Space Agency Visits China To Discuss Space Cooperation
The Saudi Space Agency has engaged in a series of meetings with Chinese government agencies and businesses to explore opportunities for enhanced cooperation in technology, industry, and space exploration. The Chairman of the Saudi Space Agency, Abdullah Al-Swaha, met with his counterpart from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. and other key figures in the space sector to discuss common interests and strategic collaboration. The Saudi delegation also held talks with representatives from Chinese companies MinoSpace, Galactic Energy, China Electronics Technology Group Corp., Galaxy Space, and I-Space to explore partnerships in satellite technologies, spacecraft industry, research, and scientific fields. This visit is part of Saudi Arabia's efforts to bolster political ties, enhance bilateral relations, and learn from Chinese successes in the space industry, aiming to position itself as a global leader in space exploration and innovation. The Saudi Space Agency has been actively collaborating with international partners to enhance its standing in the sector and seize emerging opportunities in the rapidly evolving space industry.
Israel’s Lulav Space Partners With Sidus Space For Event-Based Star Trackers
Sidus Space, a U.S. space and defence-as-a-service satellite company, has announced a partnership with Israel’s Lulav Space, a robotics company specialising in space applications, to research and develop Event-based Star Trackers (EBST). The collaboration aims to leverage the benefits of EBST technology, which provides more accurate information on satellite orientation, particularly for satellites with high angular spin rates. The EBST developed through this partnership will be included in Sidus Space's LizzieSat mission, scheduled for launch with SpaceX in June 2024. The project is part of the Space Florida award under the Florida-Israel Innovation Partnership. The use of event-based cameras in the EBST is recognised for its exceptional performance at high angular rates compared to traditional camera sensors. This collaboration combines Lulav's expertise in vision-based space applications with Sidus' satellite development and operations capabilities to create and test the first commercial EBST, enhancing satellite performance and robustness.
Saudi Arabia’s VisionCosmos Launches Suborbital Payload From Canada, With Help From Precious Payload And Al NajmX
Maritime Launch Services, the owner and operator of Canada's first commercial launch complex, has successfully conducted the inaugural launch from Spaceport Nova Scotia in collaboration with VisionCosmos Saudi Arabia. The launch was facilitated by UAE’s Precious Payload's Launch.ctrl marketplace. Al NajmX, Precious Payload's Saudi partner, played a crucial role in mission management, while Arbalest Rocketry from York University, Toronto, provided the Goose 3 rocket for the suborbital launch. The launch marked an important milestone for Maritime Launch Services and demonstrated their commitment to international cooperation and engagement with the global space community. The compact VCL-1 ChipSat from VisionCosmos, equipped with onboard sensors, was launched on the Goose 3 rocket and reached suborbital altitudes. The successful partnership between VisionCosmos, Maritime Launch Services, Al NajmX, and Precious Payload showcases the achievements in international collaboration for space missions in Saudi Arabia and their dedication to advancing space sciences and technology.
Iran Gets GEO Orbital Slot Extension From ITU For Never-Ending SATCOM Project
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has granted Iran's request for the placement of a satellite at 43.5 degrees East. The journey towards this Iranian satellite dates back to 2016, with several missed deadlines and obstacles along the way. In 2017, Iran signed an agreement with SES to temporarily place a satellite at the designated slot until Iran's own satellite could be launched, but the agreement fell through due to increased U.S. sanctions on Iran. In 2018, Russia's Roscosmos stepped in for a satellite launch, but that agreement failed due to EU restrictions on Russia. Now, Iran has received another extension from the ITU, with a new deadline of 31 August 2024, to meet the demanding 'Bring into Use' requirements. Iran has reportedly discussed co-leasing their planned satellite with Georgia's Asclepius Technologies and Quebec-based QSTC. The final challenge lies in launching the satellite into orbit, and it is said that Blue Origin, backed by Jeff Bezos, is prepared to undertake the launch. The ITU's Radio Regulations Board recognised the situation as a case of force majeure and granted the extension for the IRANSAT-43.5E satellite network.
Saudi Arabia Participates In G20 Space Economy Leaders Meeting In India
A Saudi delegation, led by Mohammed Al-Tamimi, CEO of the Saudi Space Agency, is participating in the fourth G20 Space Economy Leaders Meeting in Bengaluru, India. The two-day gathering brings together representatives from space agencies and related organizations from G20 member states, along with guests from other countries and international organisations, to discuss ways to enhance the role of the space economy in addressing global challenges and achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Al-Tamimi highlighted the spirit of cooperation and optimism embedded in the annual meeting, emphasising its significance in shaping the future of the space sector and its applications. Saudi Arabia is committed to promoting cooperative goals in line with its participation in the Artemis Accords and efforts to implement the practical aspects of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. The meeting is a result of Saudi Arabia's presidency of the G20 in 2020, aimed at fostering space-related cooperation to maximise the benefits of the space economy for sustainable development, food security, and global health.
Algerian. Egyptian Interest In Challenging BRICS Earth Observation Satellite Constellation
Intelligence Online reports that the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) earth observation satellite constellation project, aimed at being a counterweight to the U.S.-led Quad alliance, is gaining political attraction from countries such as Algeria and Egypt but faces significant technological weaknesses and imbalances among the participating countries. The project, which was proposed in 2015 and formally established in 2021, relies on resource-sharing among the countries, but the capacity contributed by each member reflects their different political visions and lacks balance. China, as the de facto leader, offers older satellites with lower resolutions, while India, Russia, South Africa, and Brazil provide satellites using Chinese technology. This dynamic leads to an over-reliance on Chinese sensing devices and a practical interest for Moscow, Brasilia, and Pretoria to access data from their partners rather than contribute their own. The egalitarian ambitions of the project also face challenges, with varying political objectives among the members, particularly between Moscow and Beijing. The project's operational efficiency in terms of programming and data-sharing is still limited, and the low number of images shared during the first year demonstrates this constraint.
Egypt’s NExSat-1 Earth Observation Microsatellite To Be Launched From China In November/December 2023
The CEO of the Egyptian Space Agency (EgSA), Sherif Sedky, announced that the NExSat-1 Earth observation microsatellite will be launched in November or December 2023 for urban planning purposes. The satellite, which arrived in China in May 2023 after completing tests in Germany, has a lifespan of six months. Its launch will follow that of the remote sensing satellite MisrSat-2 (also known as EgyptSat-2) in October 2023, both of which were originally scheduled to be launched last year. NExSat-1 was assembled and tested at the EgSA's Satellite Assembly, Integration, and Test (AIT) centre, which aims to localise satellite manufacturing in Egypt and eventually across Africa. The 65kg NExSat-1, developed in collaboration with Berlin Space Technologies, will capture images of Egyptian soil to support environmental preservation and research. This will follow the successful launch of Horus-2 in March 2023, Egypt's second remote sensing satellite, which monitors agricultural crops to enhance resource utilisation and boost exports.
Iran’s Omar Khayyam Earth Observation Satellite Starts Civilian Operations
Iranian news outlets report that the Omar Khayyam Earth observation satellite, launched by Russia in August 2022, has begun remote sensing activities to monitor and map land use changes, according to the spokesman for the Iranian Space Agency (ISA), Hossein Daliriyan. The ISA and the Information Technology Organisation of Iran (ITO) have signed a memorandum of understanding to provide satellite images to judicial authorities combating land expropriation and resolving legal disputes related to land use. The satellite is capturing images from various parts of Iran, which will be utilised to address legal challenges faced by individuals and state institutions. The data collected will also support environmental monitoring, water resource management, and other fields such as agriculture and border surveillance.
Regional Space Diplomacy
Among the other regional space diplomacy engagements and agreements over the past week are:
The UAE and South Korea agree to expand economic space cooperation during the eighth session of the South Korea-UAE Joint Economic Committee in Seoul;
Türkiye and Ukraine sign a Memorandum of Understanding promoting bilateral cooperation in strategic industries, including the space industry;
Saudi Space Achievements Should Inspire Saudi Youth To Take Up STEM Education
The Axiom Mission 2, which sent two Saudi astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), marks Saudi Arabia's entry into the realm of countries that have conducted crewed space flights for many years. Mishaal Ashemimry, an aerospace engineer and special adviser to the Saudi Space Agency who was interviewed in the Arab News, highlighted that the Ax-2 mission will not only benefit humanity but also inspire future generations of Saudis. During their time aboard the ISS, Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Al Qarni conducted 14 experiments in the microgravity environment, capitalising on the unique conditions that allow for research not possible on Earth. This research includes studying the effects of microgravity on cells, protein crystalline structures, and the human body's reactions to radiation. Additionally, the engagement with the local scientific community and focus on STEM outreach and education are crucial for inspiring the next generation of astronauts, scientists, and engineers. The intention behind Saudi Arabia's human spaceflight program is to contribute to scientific achievements and discoveries on a global scale while also fostering technological advancements that can benefit both space exploration and everyday life on Earth.
Saudi Arabian Space Sector’s Rapid Rise And Economic Significance
The launch of the Saudi Space Agency marks a significant step for Saudi Arabia in the global space race, positioning the kingdom to become a major player in the industry, according to Andy Sambidge for Arabian Gulf Business Insight (AGBI). With a focus on space science and exploratory missions, the agency aims to empower national talents and drive growth and progress. Interestingly, the article uses SpaceTech Analytics’ valuation of the global space technology industry at approximately $4.5 trillion in 2021 and projects it to reach $10 trillion by 2030, valuations that go well beyond that of the majority of industry analysts who project a $1 trillion valuation by 2040. The establishment of the Saudi Space Agency has been lauded as an important milestone, poised to attract investments, create job opportunities, and foster international collaborations in space technology. With substantial investments and support from the government, Saudi Arabia is making bold moves to assert itself in the space sector. Foreign companies are also recognizing the potential of the Saudi space industry and seeking to play a role in its development. The appointment of a retired brigadier general by Lockheed Martin for its space business development in Saudi Arabia is seen as an indication of further collaborations to come. The Saudi Space Agency's launch coincided with the return of Saudi astronauts from a historic mission to the International Space Station, serving as an inspiration for the next generation. Saudi Arabia's space program, fueled by the Vision 2030 ambitions and a $2.1 billion allocation, includes plans for a space accelerator program to attract startups in various space-related fields. The article cites other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, such as the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain, making strides in the space industry, demonstrating the region's growing interest and participation in space exploration and technology.
Be sure to catch up with space activities in the region in the next edition of Middle East Space Monitor’s space roundup!
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