UAE-Bahraini satellite arrives at International Space Station

A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft docked with the orbiting laboratory on Wednesday afternoon

A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft delivered a UAE-Bahraini nanosatellite to the International Space Station on Wednesday.

The spacecraft docked with the floating science laboratory at 12.43pm, local time.

More than 2,900 kilograms of fresh supplies, experiments and holiday treats, such as cherry blueberry cobbler, macaroni and cheese and shortbread cookies, were also delivered to astronauts on board through the resupply flight.

Light-1, a project by the UAE Space Agency and Bahrain’s space agency that will study terrestrial gamma-ray flashes was among one of the experiments aboard the flight launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre.

The satellite will spend the next few weeks on the station before it is put into orbit to begin operations in January.

The CubeSat will study bursts of gamma-ray flashes, charged particles above thunderstorms that release harmful levels of radiation and can endanger aircraft passengers.

These particles can expose air passengers to the equivalent of 400 chest X-rays in one flash.

They can also play havoc with a plane's electronics, putting passengers and crew at risk.

Students at New York University Abu Dhabi and Khalifa University built the nanosatellite. The team included nine Bahrainis and 14 Emiratis.

Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, chairman of Bahrain’s National Space Science Agency, said that the idea for the project came about in 2018.

“Our joint nanosatellite will support global efforts to measure terrestrial gamma-ray flashes and advance our understanding of how they affect human health and aviation,” he said.

“The project is a model for scientific and technological cooperation, one that serves humanity by peacefully leveraging space for the good of humankind.”

NYU Abu Dhabi is responsible for the scientific portion of the mission and has helped to develop the equipment for the satellite.

Once the mission ends, the team hopes to publish a paper in a science journal with the findings.

Mariet Westermann, vice chancellor of the university, said being part of the project was an important milestone for the university.

“Our team who designed and built the scientific payload and will spearhead the scientific data analysis for the mission has worked incredibly hard over the past years, and in close collaboration with key institutions to write this important chapter in the UAE’s history in space,” she said.

“We are immensely proud of our research team, wish the mission great success and look forward to the deployment of the satellite in orbit and seeing the first data downlinked.”

Updated: December 23rd 2021, 11:42 AM