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issue 15

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Hi friends 🖖;

“UAE” is often seen in the headlines of this newsletter even if it is one of a handful of countries to join the space race only recently. I find the story of this adventure exciting and I will try in this not-so-short editorial to give you a little recap of the history of the UAE mainly from camel riding to a Mars rover project. And this advanture took less than 50 years... That is to say that a bedouin who experienced misery at the age of 5, today, he has barely started his retirement.

Prior to the 1930s, the main source of income for the region was fishing and pearl selling. The Emirates were until then extremely poor, most of the population was illiterate, 50% of infant mortality rate and 30% of maternal mortality rate, meaning that there were almost no doctors. In the early 1960s, the first oil well was discovered in Abu Dhabi. An event that, under the exemplary management of Sheikh Zayed ben Sultan Al Nahyane, enabled the rapid development of the region: schools, hospitals and roads sprang up like mushrooms.

In 1968, the British withdrew from the region. As a result, the nine states tried to form a union, but were unable to agree. Thus, two of them, Bahrain and Qatar, claimed their independance. On 2 December 1971, the remaining states finally reached an agreement and founded a federation named the "United Arab Emirates". This date was therefore chosen as the country’s day of independence. Prosperity and development continued (until today) according to the initial vision and efforts of the founding father Sheikh Zayed. This latter died in november 2004 and was succeeded by his son.

Well, let us go back to what interests us. Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, funded the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) in 2006. 9 years later, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) was issued and EIAST became a part of it. Last year, through a partnership with Roscosmos, two Emiratis joined the ISS for a short mission of eight days on a Soyuz.

As far as satellites are concerned, and through several cooperation space programs with strategic partners (mainly South Korea’s Satrec, Russia’s Roscosmos and India’s ISRO…) aiming for knowledge transfer of space technologies to the country, the MBRSC launched KhalifaSat in 2018. It is the first Emirati satellite built from ground up 100% by UAE engineers and consists of a powerful remote sensing Earth observation satellite. This year again, the MBRSC Space Center released the Mars rover “Al Amal” (or “Hope” in Arabic): a space exploration probe set for launch on 14 July 2020 and scheduled to reach Mars in 2021. “If successful, it would become the first mission to Mars by any West Asian or Arab country”.

Due to lack of space[1], I have omitted several episodes in this gripping story, but I invite you to surf on the UAE Space Agency website for more details.

Thank you and as always, have a great week!

[1]: unlike the universe, space in this newsletter is very limitted!

🛰 Here is what you missed

👉 China is starting the construction of Asia's largest steerable radio telescope (70m in diameter) in order to communicate with its future Mars rover, due to be launched this year…[+]

👉 NASA has selected the three companies that will build its lunar landing module: Blue Origin, SpaceX and Dynetics. The total cost of the grants will reach $1 B…[+]

👉 Thales Alenia Space will work with Dynetics to study and develop the pressurised cabin for the NASA’s Human Landing System. Thales will design the main volume of the crew module, the primary structure, hatches and Extra Vehicular Activities door, thermal coating and micrometeoroid protection…[+]

👉 Thales Alenia Space will develop TDRS stations to improve telemetry communication with the VEGA launcher. At today's date, the telemetry data from VEGA are directly retrieved by a telemetry ground station system. Which makes the deployment of these stations expensive and in some configurations does not cover the entire launch trajectory. The TDRS space segment has a geostationary constellation capable of communicating with the launcher throughout the entire flight trajectory…[+]

👉 Alba orbital, a British cubesat company, has released the payload interface of its Unicorn-2 satellite. The goal is to offer a detailed documentation of the different interfaces (mechanical, electrical, tests, ...) to professionals aiming to develop compatible payloads…[+]

👉 Equatorial Space, a startup from Singapore, has unveiled Dorado, a 7m and 370kg rocket capable of putting small satellites between 105 and 200km…[+]

👉 After a long break due to the coronavirus, Arianespace announces that launches will resume in its Guiana Space Centre with flight VV16 in mid-June, where a vega rocket will put 50 small satellites into orbit, and flight VA253 at the end of July, where the Ariane 5 launcher will put two Intelsat and B-SAT satellites into orbit…[+]

👉 The Emirati Ministry of Education announces that the Emirati satellite operator Yahsat will offer free high-speed internet access to students and teachers living in white zones of the country…[+]

👉 SpaceX will test a new sunshade on its satellites to make its starlink less visible in the sky. "Our goals, in general, are to make the satellites invisible to the naked eye within a week, and to minimize the impact on astronomy, especially so as not to saturate observatory sensors and inhibit discoveries," explained Elon Musk…[+]

👉 ThinKom unveils its new phase-array Ku antenna and successfully tests its interoperability with a LEO constellation. The tests demonstrated a switch time between two satellites of 100ms and a handover between satellites in less than one second…[+]

👉 Virgin Galactic conducted successfully the first suborbital test flight of SpaceShipTwo…[+]

🍪 Cookie of the week

The latest video in our Starlink series. In this one, the focus is on the technical specifications of the Starlink satellites (communication payload, delays, data speed, antennas, costs ...).

Here you are debriefed 👌. Rendezvous next week!

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