Space Is Not The Limit: A Look At The UAE’s Ambitious Space Programme

UAE Space Agency has signed an agreement with Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company to work closely to develop various related programmes centred on science, education and technology


The new wave of space race has the UAE right in the thick of it.

Just recently, the UAE Space Agency has signed an agreement with Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company to work closely to develop various related programmes centred on science, education and technology.

But what’s even more revealing is the plan for the UAE to potentially become a space tourism hub, with a dedicated airport to be stationed in Al Ain.

This latest development is of course significant as it solidifies the country’s role in the emerging industry that aims to offer space travel to the public.

But how did we get here in the first place? Here’s a brief rundown of the UAE’s path towards outer space…

  • The UAE’s 2008 proposal to establish a Pan-Arab Space Agency in the region didn’t take off for a couple of reasons. Undeterred, the country founded the United Arab Emirates Space Agency in 2014 to look after its future space agendas.
  • The year 2015 saw the newly formed agency struck up a partnership with the National Centre of Space Studies of France and the UK Space Agency.
  • Part of the overall goal of the agency is to come up with scientific research, programmes and products to boost space science and technology. Likewise, the agency looks to develop young Emiratis to become space and technology pioneers, and even astronauts.
  • The Emirates Mars Mission spearheaded by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai will be carrying out the Mars Hope Mission in 2020. The mission will see the unmanned spacecraft Hope blast off from Earth in July 2020. Hope is expected to reach the Red Planet in 2021 to coincide with the UAE’s 50th National Day. Its mission: to gather as many data as possible to help us understand planet Mars.
  • The UAE’s first astronauts Hazza Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi went to Russia to undergo training. One of the men will be joining a space mission sponsored by Russia in September. Who among the two will make it? We’ll find out this May.
  • Virgin Galactic head honcho visited the UAE in February this year to meet with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, to discuss further the UAE’s role in space science. The daring entrepreneur likewise presented Sheikh Mohamed with a UAE flag taken into space on Virgin Galactic Space Flight.
  • The UAE launched a regional space collaboration dubbed the Arab Space Cooperation Group during the inaugural Global Space Congress. Neighbouring countries including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Algeria and Kuwait will work closely to come up with space projects.
  • A partnership this month has been sealed between the UAE Space Agency, Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company to collaborate for future space-related research and programmes. A space tourism airport in Al Ain is being looked at for future use.
  • Pakistan has relayed interest in collaborating with the UAE for its space-related endeavours. Aside from increasing its space satellite projects, the South Asian country is looking to send its first astronaut into orbit by 2022.
  • A new report published by Arabian Business indicated the possibility of high-speed travel through outer space, potentially disrupting the airline business. It is projected that passengers would be able to reach one country to another in less time using an ultra-fast spacecraft. Industry experts project that travel time from New York to Shanghai would only take 39 minutes, while Dubai and London would be completed in just 29 minutes.

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