Report: UAE Working with Blue Origin to Establish Spaceport, Ends Agreement with Virgin Galactic

New Shepard takes off with six passengers on Dec. 11, 2021. (Credit: Blue Origin website)

At the end of a long article about the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) efforts to develop a virbrant space industry, The National revealed this bit of news from Ibrahim Al Qasim, deputy director general of the UAE Space Agency.

Mr Al Qasim revealed to The National that the agreement that was signed in 2019 with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to bring space tourism flights to Al Ain Airport is no longer in effect, without explaining further.

Instead, the country is now working with Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin to set up spaceports.

He said discussions with the company, which has already flown 20 people on its suborbital flights, are under way.

Any agreement to fly Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle would be dependent upon a technology safeguards agreement between the UAE and the United States. An agreement with New Zealand allows Rocket Lab to launch Electron rockets from the company’s spaceport on Mahia Peninsula. Brazil has signed an agreement that will allow U.S. companies to launch from the Alcantara Space Center.

The UAE state of Abu Dhabi has been a major investor in Virgin Galactic, which plans to fly suborbital tourism flights aboard SpaceShipTwo. In 2009, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Aabar Investments put in $280 million for a 31.7 percent share of Richard Branson’s space company. Aabar later invested an additional $100 million for a 38.7 percent share of Virgin Galactic.

The additional $100 million investment was intended to help finance the development of a small satellite booster that would be air launched from WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft when it wasn’t used for SpaceShipTwo suborbital flights. A new company, Virgin Orbit, split off from Virgin Galactic. The company dumped plans to use WhiteKnightTwo; instead, it uses a larger booster, LauncherOne, that is dropped from a modified Boeing 747 named Cosmic Girl.

DEWA Improves Management of Power Grid, Water Transmission and Distribution Networks Worldwide Through its Leadership in Launching Nanosatellites

DUBAI, UAE (DEWA PR) — Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has achieved a new world record through its launching of the 3U nanosatellite DEWA-SAT1 in collaboration with NanoAvionics. It has proved once again that it is one of the most prominent global utilities and the most distinguished in all its operations. After the success of the pilot project, DEWA has become the world’s first utility to use nanosatellites to improve the maintenance and planning of electricity and water networks.

The launching of the satellite is part of DEWA’s Space-D programme launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in January 2021 to consolidate Dubai’s leadership in developing and using the latest global technologies. Through Space-D, DEWA researches the use of space technology to support utilities to improve their operations and planning. This will support sustainable development and a green economy in the UAE and worldwide.

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The Second Life of the Gagarin Start Launch Complex

Gagarin Start launch complex at Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Translated from Russian by Google Translate

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — The place where modern cosmonautics was born is known for sure: it is the legendary “Gagarin Launch”, site No. 1 of the Baikonur cosmodrome. It was here that the launch of the first satellite opened the Space Age of mankind. It was from here that Yuri Gagarin ascended into orbit on April 12, 1961.

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DEWA Signs Agreement with NanoAvionics to Provide Nanosatellites to Support the digitalisation of Dubai’s Power and Water Networks

Deal is part of DEWA’s Space-D programme

COLUMBIA, Ill. (NanoAvionics PR) — Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has selected NanoAvionics, a leading smallsat manufacturer and mission integrator company, to design, build, test, and manage the launching of two nanosatellites 3U and 6U. The services supplied by NanoAvionics also include operation, knowledge transfer and training. This is part of DEWA’s space-D programme that seeks to enhance operational efficiency and reliability, and promote preventive maintenance for the planning, generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and water networks.

Through this programme, DEWA will lead the industry in improving the operations, maintenance and planning of its networks with the support of nanosatellite technology. Space-D supports DEWA’s grid digitalisation programme by using IoT and remote sensing technologies.

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Blue Origin Eyes UAE as Possible Launch Site

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, which carried payloads supported by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, lands on the pad in West Texas on Aug. 26, 2021. NASA’s Orbital Syngas Commodity Augmentation Reactor (OSCAR), which tests technology to convert trash and human waste generated during spaceflight into useful gases, was a part of the 17th New Shepard mission. (Credits: Blue Origin)

The National reports that Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is eyeing the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for launches of its New Shepard suborbital crew system.

In an exclusive interview with The National, Brent Sherwood, senior vice president of advanced development programmes for Blue Origin, said the UAE was an “obvious choice” for a spaceport and that it was looking to expand its launch sites from the current one in El Paso, Texas.

“Now that we are operational for tourism, the next thing we are looking at is other locations around the planet to establish launch and landing sites for New Shepard,” he said.

“It’s an obvious place to look here. All we really need is some desert. One of the endearing qualities of the West Texas desert is that it is hard to get to the El Paso airport. You have to drive for a couple of hours and it is in the middle of nowhere.

“A couple of nights ago I slept over in Sharjah and did some stargazing in the desert. It was only 30 minutes away from Dubai, so I think it’s very promising to think about areas here.”

Virgin Galactic is also eyeing the UAE for flights of its suborbital SpaceShipTwo crew vehicle. The government of Abu Dhabi invested $390 million into Richard Branson’s space company.

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.

Israel, UAE Agree to Collaborate on Lunar, Earth Observation & Satellite Missions

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will collaborate on a mission to the moon, analyze data from an Israeli-French Earth observation satellite, and launch a joint education satellite under a landmark agreement signed last week to cooperate on a range of space projects, the Israel Space Agency (ISA) announced.

The two nations will collaborate on Genesis 2, an $100 million Israeli mission to launch an orbiter to the moon and deploy landers at two different locations on the lunar surface. The mission, which is to be half funded with foreign contributions, is scheduled to launch in 2024.

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UAE, CU Boulder to Team on Mission to Explore Venus and Asteroids

Venus hides a wealth of information that could help us better understand Earth and exoplanets. NASA’s JPL is designing mission concepts to survive the planet’s extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressure. This image is a composite of data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Fresh off the success of the Hope Mars orbiter, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric Science and Physics (LASP) will team again on an ambitious mission to explore Venus and seven asteroids.

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Yahsat Selects SpaceX to Launch its Next-generation Thuraya 4-NGS Satellite

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 52 Starlink satellites on May 15, 2021. (Credit: SpaceX)
  • Yahsat selects Falcon 9 to launch its Thuraya 4-NGS satellite
  • SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft
  • Thuraya 4-NGS system will enable Yahsat to capitalise on future growth opportunities with advanced satellite communications that employ latest technologies

AL FALAH CITY, Abu Dhabi (Yahsat PR) — Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PJSC (“Yahsat” or “the Group”) listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (“ADX”) under (SYMBOL: YAHSAT) (ISIN: AEA007501017), the UAE’s flagship satellite solutions provider, today announced that it has selected SpaceX’s Falcon 9 to launch Thuraya 4-NGS, the Group’s advanced satellite, which employs the latest satellite communications technologies, to expand Thuraya’s coverage across Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.

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Launch 2020: A Year of Transition for Japan

The United Arab Emirates’ Hope Probe took off at 2:58 p.m. PDT on July 19 from a launch site in Japan, headed for Mars to study its atmosphere. (Credit: MHI Launch Services via YouTube)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a typical year for Japan with four successful launches and no failures. Japan has averaged 3.8 launches annually over the past decade. Last year also saw a Japanese astronaut become the first foreigner to fly aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

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MBRSC Teams Up with Japan’s ispace on Emirates Lunar Mission

HAKUTO-R lander on the moon. (Credit: ispace)
  • Emirates Lunar Mission’s ‘Rashid’ rover to go to the Moon on ispace’s Mission 1 in 2022
  • ispace to provide payload delivery, and communication and power services for the rover
  • Agreement further strengthens UAE-Japan collaboration in space exploration

Dubai, UAE, 14 April 2021 (ispace PR) — The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has signed a contract with Japan’s ispace, inc. (ispace), under which the latter will provide payload delivery services for the ambitious Emirates Lunar Mission. Under this agreement, ispace becomes a key strategic and implementation partner to MBRSC on the Emirates Lunar Mission, the first of its kind from the Arab world.

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Arianespace Launches UAE Satellite on Russian Soyuz Rocket

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has successfully launched FalconEye, a very-high-performance Earth observation satellite for the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces.

With the eighth launch in 2020, Arianespace once again confirms the reliability and flexibility of the Soyuz launcher, which just realized its 24th launch from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

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United Arab Emirates Accedes to Artemis Accords

ABU DHABI, UAE, Oct. 13, 2020 (UAE Space Agency PR) — The United Arab Emirates Space Agency has announced that it has signed the Artemis Accords, an international treaty that aims to further cement the principles of peaceful collaboration and co-existence in the exploration of space, planetary science and space engineering, and paving the way for Lunar and Martian exploration.

“We have ourselves benefited from many fruitful partnerships as we have evolved our own space programme,” Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri, UAE Minister for Advanced Technology and Chair of the UAE Space Agency said. “As a result, we have also been able to make increasingly effective contributions to international efforts to push the boundaries in our shared human knowledge and understanding of our universe.”

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7 Nations Join U.S. in Signing the Artemis Accords

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — International cooperation on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program is taking a step forward today with the signing of the Artemis Accords between NASA and several partner countries. The Artemis Accords establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations participating in the agency’s 21st century lunar exploration plans.

“Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and the Artemis Accords are the vehicle that will establish this singular global coalition,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “With today’s signing, we are uniting with our partners to explore the Moon and are establishing vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space for all of humanity to enjoy.”

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United Arab Emirates Astronauts to Train at NASA’s Johnson Space Center Under New Agreement

UAE astronauts Sultan AlNeyadi and Hazzaa AlMansoori. (Credits: Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has signed a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to train UAE astronauts on International Space Station systems at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston later this year.

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