Abu Dhabi Space Debate to focus on new dawn of exploration

More than 50 space agencies will be represented at two-day event

The future of space will be hotly debated in Abu Dhabi this week. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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A major space conference in Abu Dhabi will address future challenges and the dawn of a new age of exploration.

The Abu Dhabi Space Debate, to be held on Monday and Tuesday at the Adnoc Business Centre, will be attended by delegates from more than 50 space agencies and authorities.

The gathering comes at a time of landmark events for the industry, including mega-constellations of satellites that are crowding low-Earth orbit and countries increasingly looking to militarise space.

There are concerns about whether there are the right regulations in place to police private companies aiming to commercialise low-Earth orbit.

Future manned missions to the Moon — and the greatest prize, Mars — will be debated.

Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology, and chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, said last month that “there is no doubt we are at the dawn of a new space age”.

“From two space-capable actors in the world in the 1960s, the Americans and the Soviets, we are now looking at a multilateral world where some 70 nations have space programmes, where private sector players are taking the roles of launch provider, space station builder, satellite funder ― roles previously only in the hands of governments,” Ms Al Amiri said at the time.

“This is precisely why the Abu Dhabi Space Debate is vital to our development of the space sectors.”

Nasa administrator Bill Nelson is among the high profile delegates, as well as the head of the European Space Agency and the head of Japan's Jaxa.

There will also be a session on the space industry and Cop28, which will be held at Expo City Dubai next year.

An investigation into the role of space agreements, such as the Artemis Accords, will also take place.

Updated: December 05, 2022, 5:35 AM