UAE satellite blasts into space on Russian rocket

The 20kg modular satellite is designed to help companies and countries get access to space

Powered by automated translation

A UAE satellite was carried into space by a Russian Soyuz rocket on Tuesday, helping to pave the way for a collaboration between the Emirates and the UN created to broaden access to space travel.

The PHI-Demo CubeSat, a 20kg modular satellite, lifted-off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia at 3.35pm UAE time aboard a Soyuz-2 carrier.

The satellite shares technology from two companies, allowing them quicker access to space instead of spending time and money on building satellites of their own.

It is the first mission under the Payload Hosting Initiative, a platform from the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre that offers opportunities to start-up businesses and countries.

“We have lift-off. The Soyuz-2 rocket carrying the PHI-Demo has launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia,” the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre tweeted.

UK company SteamJet Space Systems is one of the companies whose technology is aboard the PHI-Demo satellite.

It is a propulsion subsystem that uses water to fuel the spacecraft, offering a greener and more sustainable power.

US company OQ Technology has its Internet of Things communication system integrated into the satellite.

It stores and forwards data collected from IoT devices in remote areas, industries and autonomous vehicles using 5G technology.

Amer Al Sayegh, senior director of the space engineering at MBRSC, said that these small satellites are being tested in space for the first time.

“These small satellites play a crucial role worldwide by providing new data monitoring Earth's terrain and serving users around the globe,” he said.

“Thus, we encourage companies and researchers at universities to develop these techniques.

“We aim to support various entities worldwide by providing them with the opportunity to launch instruments they have expertise in and test them in space.”

Solar panels on the satellite will be activated once it is in orbit, at an altitude of 550km, later on launch day.

A five-day period has been allotted for this phase, during which the space centre's technical team will maintain daily 10-minute communications with the satellite as it passes over the UAE.

Laboratories at the American University in Ras Al Khaimah and Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi will also be communicating with the satellite.

“Upon successful completion of the five days, the team will embark on payload operations,” the space centre said.

“Command operations will be handled from the ground stations located within the university campus, with the university's faculty members leading the operation.”

The next satellite under the Payload Hosting Initiative is the PHI-1 CubeSat.

Bahrain and Nepal were selected to add their technologies to the satellite.

Bahrain’s National Space Science Agency will develop the Aman payload, which will help secure communication between the satellite and ground station.

Nepal’s Antarikchya Pratisthan, a non-profit organisation, will build the Danfe Space Mission – technology that will study the operation of drones in space.

Updated: June 27, 2023, 5:19 PM