SpaceX Wins Competition to Launch UAE Imaging Satellite

Falcon 9 launches the Transporter-2 mission. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has won a contract to launch to launch the United Arab Emirates first largely domestically produced satellite as a rideshare payload aboard a Falcon 9 rocket in 2023.

MBZ-Sat will be the UAE’s fourth imaging satellite, with nearly double the resolution of the earlier KhalifaSat. MBZ-Sat is named after Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

“We’re honored to support this mission, and we look forward to the successful launch of MBZ-SAT and many future projects,” said Tom Ochinero, SpaceX vice president of commercial sales.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) is constructing the 700 kg (1,543 lb) satellite. Engineers have completion of MBZ-Sat’s structure model and conducted initial tests, the center said.

Project director Amer Al Sayegh said during a press conference earlier this week that 90 percent of the mechanical parts and 50 percent of the electrical and electronic elements are being manufactured in the UAE. MBRSC is working with UAE-based companies Strata, EPI, Rockford Xellerix, HALCON and Falcon Group.

SpaceX has launched two Transporter rideshare missions to date. The company set a new world record by lofting 143 commercial and government satellites into orbit in January 2021. The Transporter-2 flight launched 88 satellites in June 2021. A third Transporter rideshare mission is scheduled for January.