Saudi Arabia to boost space funding with eye on Moon and Mars

Kingdom's space authority to launch new body to increase funding

epa08999521 A handout photo made available by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) shows an illustration of the arrival of the Hope Probe to Mars orbit (issued on 09 February 2021). The Emirates Mars Mission Hope Probe is the first planetary mission led by an Arab-Islamic country and the space probe is to study the Martian atmosphere.  EPA/MBRSC/UAE Space Agency HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
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Saudi Arabia will take steps to increase investment in the space sector, according to reports of the latest meeting of the Saudi Space Commission.

The commission is working with the Saudi Investment Ministry and Public Investment Fund and is weeks away from launching a new organisation to focus on encouraging investment in the space field, the Saudi-owned Asharq Al Awsat newspaper quoted chairman Prince Sultan bin Salman as saying.

Prince Sultan said that besides securing funds, the new entity will enable the involvement of SMEs, the daily reported, citing a statement from the commission after its fourth board meeting.

It said the commission also reviewed the kingdom's plans to send exploratory missions to the Moon and Mars.

Prince Sultan said the kingdom would assemble an integrated crew with international space agencies within two years for exploratory missions to Mars and the Moon.

He congratulated the UAE on the Hope probe's successful entry into Martian orbit this week.

Prince Sultan became the first Arab in space in 1985, when he was part of a seven-member international crew aboard Nasa's Discovery space shuttle. He was appointed chairman of the SSC after it was established in 2018 to draw up and implement Saudi Arabia's space strategy.

Saudi Arabia last year allocated $2.1 billion for its space programme under the Vision 2030 economic diversification plan.