First Emirati-built satellite marks one year in space

KhalifaSat has taken more than 7,000 images as part of its mission to help humanity tackle global issues, such as climate change

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The first entirely Emirati-made satellite was praised for its "outstanding performance" on Tuesday – exactly one year since it went into space.

KhalifaSat was launched into the skies on board a rocket from an island off the southern tip of Japan on October 29 last year.

It was heralded as an "unprecedented Emirati achievement' by UAE leaders at the time – and senior members of the country's space programme have been encouraged by its results in the past 12 months.

KhalifaSat was designed and built at the Space Technology Laboratories of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai.

Its role is to beam high-quality images to a ground station in the emirate.

The pictures will help governments and private companies across the globe tackle a range of challenges, from climate change and disaster relief to urban planning.

KhalifaSat has taken 7,250 high-quality images and completed 5,431 low Earth orbits since its momentous launch date.

During a busy year, the satellite has communicated with its ground station 906 times to send 355 terabytes of information and images.

"Today [October 29] marks one year since the launch of KhalifaSat, the first satellite developed 100 per cent in the UAE by a team of highly qualified Emirati engineers," said Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.

"After the outstanding performance, images and analysis it has provided, we celebrate the culmination of one of the UAE’s major achievements. This success proves that our youth can enjoy more achievements, reflecting the aspirations of our wise leadership."

Amer Al Ghafri, director of the space systems development department and KhalifaSat project manager, was impressed by the satellite's progress.

An aerial image of Palm Jumeirah, taken from space by KhalifaSat. Courtesy Dubai Media Office  
An aerial image of Palm Jumeirah, taken from space by KhalifaSat. Courtesy Dubai Media Office  

"One year after its launch, KhalifaSat is performing very well. It is still ahead of other satellites in the region, in monitoring and analysis. KhalifaSat will be able to capture more images in the next few years," he said.

In its 365 days orbiting the Earth, KhalifaSat captured images of Palm Jumeirah, Al Maktoum Stadium, Kingdom Centre, Masjid al-Haram in Makkah, Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (the Prophet's Mosque), the Federal Territory Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the Baikonur Cosmodrome, from where the first Emirati astronaut, Maj Hazza Al Mansouri, travelled to space.

The satellite also beamed back images of major projects and achievements in the UAE and its construction work, including at Abu Dhabi International Airport and the surrounding area, in addition to the construction developments around Louvre Abu Dhabi.