Joint UAE-Bahrain nanosatellite to launch in two days

New device will study gamma-ray flashes

A SpaceX rocket will take the nano-satellite towards the International Space Station. Joe Raedle / Getty Images / AFP
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A joint UAE-Bahraini nanosatellite will be launched to the International Space Station on Tuesday in a milestone mission for the two nations.

Light-1 will take off on SpaceX's Falcon 9 CRS-24 from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. It will then will be deployed from the Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo) in the ISS into orbit, under supervision from the Japanese Aerospace Space Agency (Jaxa).

The nanosatellite was built and designed in collaboration between the UAE Space Agency and Bahrain's National Space Science Agency.

Light-1 is a nanosatellite, but it is no different from other larger satellites in terms of the technology or technical expertise required to build or launch it. It is also a cube satellite that consists of three units and is often referred to as a 3U CubeSat.

Light-1’s name was inspired by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa's book, The First Light. It recounts key points in Bahrain's history and the name symbolises the country’s growth and scientific progress.

The research spacecraft was developed by Bahraini and Emirati engineers and scientists working from labs in the UAE. The team is made up of 23 students, including nine Bahrainis and 14 Emiratis from Khalifa University and New York University Abu Dhabi.

After reaching its orbit around Earth, Light-1 will monitor and study terrestrial gamma ray flashes (TGRs) from thunderstorms and cumulus clouds. TRG analysis is an emerging field of geoscientific research which the mission will contribute to at an international level. It will be the first study of its kind in the region. New York University will be leading the science data analysis aspect for this mission.

In addition to the joint Light-1 satellite, Khalifa University of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi supports the capacity building of NSSA staff by including them in key projects. This has helped train and upskill talent in space field.

The partnership between the UAE Space Agency and NSSA will also see the UAE Space Agency participate in the Bahrain International Airshow 2022; in which an agreement was signed by Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, and Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Bahrain is also a member of the Arab Space Cooperation Group, an initiative adopted to promote cooperation on space among Arab countries. It has 14 member states and is headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

The logo for the Light-1 mission. Photo: UAE Government
Updated: December 19, 2021, 4:02 PM