The first entirely UAE-made satellite launched into space today in what has been hailed as an "unprecedented Emirati achievement" by the country's leaders.
KhalifaSat, designed and built indigenously by engineers at Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, took off as planned shortly after 8am UAE time from Tanegashima Space Centre, sited on an island some 40km south of the Japanese mainland.
On Monday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said this was "a new historic day for the UAE".
Taking to Twitter to express his pride, he said the launch was a feat in which "the children of the Emirates proved their ability, maturity, knowledge and ambition which they are racing the world with.
"Our heads are raised to the sky today," he said.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, also congratulated the country on the successful launch.
"The launch of KhalifaSat is an unprecedented Emirati achievement," he said.
"Our dreams of embracing space have become a reality made possible by our young people who are setting a new bar in scientific achievement. We are proud of our country’s youth, Zayed’s family, and their achievements that prove Arabs are able to compete and lead," he said.
Less than two hours after launch, the satellite separated from the launch rocket and began its Low Earth Orbit. KhalifaSat will remain in orbit for five years, capturing high-quality detailed images that will be used in urban planning, environmental research and to plan relief efforts for natural disasters.
While KhalifaSat was made exclusively by Emiratis in the UAE, working in partnership with Japan to put in into space had helped build links between the countries, senior figures said.
Amer Al Sayegh, the KhalifaSat project manager, said: “It’s not only the technical work that we are doing with our Japanese colleagues, it’s the bonding of two teams and two cultures working together for the same vision. The UAE now has a highly-qualified team equipped with knowledge, expertise and strong teamwork for the new missions for the UAE.”
Naohiko Abe, senior vice president at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, thanked the UAE for their continued support and co-operation.
“Since the time we have signed an agreement in February 2015 till the present, we have received the ultimate support from them. We hope that this partnership will remain successful and of course KhalifaSat has reached its orbit and we hope it will continue its mission successfully,” said Mr Abe.
Hamed Al Mansouri, Chairman of Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, said: “This day will be remembered by the future generation. We have indeed been able to build KhalifaSat and it was 100 per cent made in the UAE. In MBR Space Centre, we are proud of the 70 engineers, men and women, who have worked for the last six years with all their efforts in preparation for the satellite launch today. This is certainly a historical moment for the UAE."
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, congratulated the country's rulers and its people on the achievement on Monday, saying the success was made all the better by taking place during the Year of Zayed.
"Our celebrations take place during the Year of Zayed, giving them a new dimension since he made contributions across the world," he said.
"The UAE Mars Mission and the astronaut programme are great achievements in which we continue our march in the footsteps of Zayed in service of humanity and to achieve happiness and ensure the future."
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