KhalifaSat to fine-tune earth imaging knowhow
December 30, 2013
Dubai: The UAE’s first satellite to be built on UAE soil, KhalifaSat, will be a more powerful tool to capture high-resolution images of the earth and more agile than its predecessors.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Sunday gave the green light to the Emirates Institute for Advanced Science and Technology (Eiast) to build the KhalifaSat, a 100 per cent Emirati-designed and built earth imaging satellite.
“This is a big step for us. We’ve been working for the past years on really transferring this know-how and technology to UAE nationals. This is a big step that we are able to develop advance space systems using our own people and doing it in the UAE,” Salem Al Merri, Assistant Director-General for Scientific and Technical Affairs at Eiast, told Gulf News.
KhalifaSat is currently in the design phase and is scheduled for launch in 2017. It is the third UAE-owned satellite to be launched by Eiast, following the launch of DubaiSat1 in Kazakhstan in 2009 and DubaiSat2 in Russia just last month.
A team of 45 Emirati engineers will work on KhalifaSat, which will be slightly bigger than DubaiSat2 but weigh just less than 350 kilogramme.
Al Merri said KhalifaSat will be able to take high-quality images of the UAE and other places — down to a sub-metre resolution of 70 centimetre — from an orbit of 600 kilometres above Earth.
Aside from the high-resolution imaging, Al Merri said they had increased the satellite’s data downlink to enable faster transmission of images.
“Also, it will have more agility in space. So we can move the satellite much faster in space and reach different targets.”
To build the KhalifaSat, Eiast’s headquarters in Al Khwaneej will be expanded to include a clean room facility complete with testing equipment such as thermal chambers, electrodynamic shakers, and other environmental testing facilities for satellite development. The facility will be large enough to accommodate up to two-tonne projects and multiple projects at the same time.
Al Merri said construction of the facility will start “very soon” and will be completed by early 2015 in time for the development of the flight model of KhalifaSat.