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Surrey Chief Sees Middle East Space Growth, Lunarnet

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
February 5, 2011
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Some interesting remarks from Surrey Satellite Technology Chairman Martin Sweeting, who is set to address delegates at the Global Space and Satellite Forum (GSSF) 2011 in Abu Dhabi in May:

“The Middle East region has already demonstrated a keen interest in space-based technologies and I am therefore delighted to be given the opportunity to address the delegates at this year’s GSSF. Small satellites are at the forefront of space innovation, and I believe that there are great opportunities for the region to benefit from the high-tech commercial opportunities in this growing space sector.”

While speaking to the ‘Engineer’ last November, Sir Martin made a prediction which are precisely what you would expect from a visionary. He looks forward to manned space exploration returning within the next ten years after the discovery of significant amounts of water on the Moon and, never one to miss a business opportunity, Sweeting plans to surround the Moon with small satellites to give astronauts internet and communication capabilities.

Most importantly, Sir Martin is a strong advocate of using this high technology sector as a foundation to develop education, training, industry and economies. Many emerging economies have a long term strategy of developing their infrastructure and skill base using this approach, which then feeds other industries, grows wealth, provides education and training and gives a platform for national and international collaboration and cooperation.

“It’s not just the technology, but what you do with it, how you use it and what benefits you can bring to the people, the country and the region that is important,” Sir Martin explains.

Conference Details

Global Space and Satellite Forum (GSSF) 2011
Location: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre
Dates: May 9-11

Now in its third year, the overall conference programme will address issues ranging from life-saving developments in disaster management to the delivery of entertainment media via handheld consumer devices, bringing together senior industry figures and government officials.

Other headline speakers at the forum include, Dr. Omar El Emam, Advisor to the Arab Science and Technology Foundation; Andrew Nelson, COO of US-based XCOR Aerospace; Ahmed Al Mansoori, Director General, EIAST and Major Dr. Mohamed Al Ahbabi, ICT Advisor to the UAE Armed Forces.

GSSF is also supported by the UAE Space Reconnaissance Centre, NASA, Emirates Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, the Association of Specialist Technical Organisations for Space, the Society of Satellite Professionals International and the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies.

Editor’s Note: XCOR’s involvement is interesting in that it is developing the Lynx space plane for space tourism, scientific experiments, and small satellite launches — all of which the United Arab Emirates has taken a keen interest in. Virgin Galactic and Bigelow Aerospace already have deals with UAE groups. Could XCOR — which is in constant need of  investors and partners — be next? If so, the commercial human spaceflight sector could be something made in America and funded with Middle Eastern funds.

Source: Press Release