Saudi Arabia is giving a boost to space education to help the sector grow further.
Several scholarship and graduate training programmes are being launched to increase the number of youth pursuing careers in space.
Serco, a public service company, has launched a Saudi Space Division, which is currently accepting applications for its new Graduate Space Programme.
Several graduates will be recruited by October and will be given training opportunities at leading space facilities in Europe.
“Developing talent in KSA within a new, burgeoning sector for the region means there will be major investment into the development of national talent to establish in-country skills and capabilities, and to ensure that the there is a flow of potential recruits into the industry both now and for many years to come,” Amar Vora, head of space at Serco Middle East, told The National.
The participants will be trained in satellite operations, so they can work on future missions being led by Saudi Arabia.
Once the graduates return from Europe, they will receive theoretical classes, on-the-job training, shadowing and mentoring opportunities, in hopes that they would secure contracts within the regional space sector through Serco.
“Our team of operators and engineers have supported various space missions for several decades across the globe and we are excited to bring that expertise here to the region,” Mr Vora said.
Scholarship programmes are also being launched in the kingdom to give youth more opportunities in space education.
Selected pupils will be granted scholarships to the world’s top 200 educational institutions, to study subjects such as astronomy and space sciences, aerospace engineering, astrophysics, general relativity physics and cosmology, vehicle design, aeronautics and astronautical engineering, and space engineering.
Saudi Arabia's Communications, Space and Technology Commission is behind the new scholarship programme.
“In order to enhance capabilities and cultivate promising national competencies in space-related fields, the Commission has collaborated with Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques Scholarship Programme to diversify specialisations in this domain,” a statement said.
“This partnership aims to empower national cadres and fulfil the kingdom's aspirations in space exploration, while also keeping up with global advancements and achieving the Commission’s goals and the kingdom's Vision 2030.”
Saudi Arabia has plans to send its astronauts to extended missions.
It has also set its sights on going beyond low-Earth orbit and hopes to send missions to the Moon and Mars in the future.
Last year, the kingdom became the 21st country to join the Artemis Accords – a US-led international agreement on responsible Moon exploration.
In 2020, Saudi Arabia allocated $2.1 billion for its space programme under its Vision 2030 economic diversification plan.
With many new plans in space exploration, the kingdom is looking to invest in new talent and help increase the number of jobs in the sector.
Saudi Arabia has a rich history in space exploration, with Prince Sultan bin Salman becoming the first Arab in space in 1985.
He was part of a seven-member international crew aboard Nasa's Discovery space shuttle.