Dubai launches ground station for students to test code on live satellites in orbit

The Code in Space Satellite Ground Station will help students develop their programming skills

Dubai has launched a satellite station that will be used by university students to test code on live satellites in orbit.

The ground station is an initiative by Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority to help students develop skills in managing satellites and their technology.

The Code in Space Satellite Ground Station, in the Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus in Dubai Silicon Oasis, will be used to develop and test software code on the computers of satellites that are orbiting the Earth.

“For the first time in the Arab world, students, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts will be able to learn coding for space in practice – to develop and test software and algorithms on satellites in orbit around Earth,” said Dr Juma Al Matrooshi, deputy chief executive of DSOA.

“This will give them the opportunity to not only conceptualise, but also implement their projects and test their effectiveness, qualifying a new generation of experts in satellite control.

“This new station will also enable our youth to master this technology and play a key role in a sector that has contributed to advancing humanity, by finding practical solutions to critical issues, most prominently climate change, monitoring Earth’s temperature, and natural disasters, in addition to the services it provides in communication, innovation, and exploration.”

A growing number of students across the Emirates now have access to a ground station, as more universities offer space education.

The American University of Ras Al Khaimah launched a ground station last year to track and communicate with their student-built MeznSat nanosatellite.

Students at Dubai’s Amity University also have access to a ground station on campus, where they track satellites.

The technology is helping students predict weather patterns and pollution levels as part of their studies.

In Al Ain, the UAE University launched a satellite assembly, integration and testing centre, where students can design and build satellites.

The latest satellite station was launched to support a coding programme that was developed by a private space firm in Dubai, Orbital Space.

Students from universities across the Middle East are participating in the programme, including from Khalifa University, the Higher Colleges of Technology, Kuwait University, American University of the Middle East, Sabah Al-Ahmad Center for Giftedness and Creativity, the University of Bahrain and Al Hekma International School Bahrain.

Adnan Al Rais, the programme manager of the Mars 2117 project at MBRSC, said the programme would help bring new talent into the space sector.

“The inauguration of the Code in Space Satellite Ground Station is a significant step in support of space programmes, and contributes to the achievement of a priority objective for the Mars 2117 project – strengthening the space industry sector through empowering entrepreneurs to establish companies that operate in the space and space advanced technologies sectors,” he said.

Inside the ground control room at Dubai's Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre - in pictures

Updated: September 9th 2021, 4:00 AM