The UAE has ushered in a new era for its space industry with the initiation of the Sirb satellite programme by Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai. This landmark programme is set to catalyze the development of the country’s space sector, propelled by the UAE’s industrial prowess.
During the recent briefing, the Crown Princes were apprised of the project’s ambitious goals and the cutting-edge technology that will be developed as part of the satellite programme. A national industrial consortium will undertake the development and operation of the satellites, under the watchful eye of the UAE Space Agency.
The programme is set to launch its first satellite in 2026, which is poised to advance the UAE’s capabilities in remote sensing technologies across various sectors. A trio of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites will form a constellation, providing state-of-the-art imaging solutions capable of precision results regardless of weather conditions.
The Sirb satellite programme is aligned with the UAE’s commitment to addressing global issues such as climate change, environmental sustainability, urban development, disaster response, and food security. It underscores the country’s investment in national talent and the fostering of partnerships with global entities.
Sheikh Khaled emphasized the vision of enhancing local space expertise to transform the UAE into a satellite manufacturing and operating powerhouse. He highlighted the importance of integrating national companies and the private sector into this visionary journey, aiming to bolster the space sector’s infrastructure.
Sheikh Hamdan remarked on the strategic shift Sirb satellite programme represents for the UAE space sector, marking a transition to an integrated ecosystem involving government, private, and academic sectors. He pointed out the critical role of start-ups, SMEs, and entrepreneurs as catalysts for economic development.
Sarah Al Amiri, the UAE Space Agency Chairperson, expressed gratitude for the continuous support and leadership vision that is propelling the Sirb satellite programme forward, marking it as a pivotal step in the UAE’s space exploration journey.
The programme will be managed by EDGE as a strategic partner, focusing on the development of the SAR payload. Collaborative efforts with Yahsat, Bayanat, and NSSTC will ensure robust satellite operations and data management, while assembly, integration, and testing operations will also be a key focus.
In the broader scheme, the Sirb satellite programme is set to amplify the UAE’s sovereign capabilities in space technology, especially SAR payloads, and forge strategic alliances for technology transfer and knowledge exchange. This initiative will not only reinforce the UAE’s status as a space industry leader but will also propel economic growth and technological innovation.
With the commercialization of satellite data at its core, the Sirb satellite programme promises to serve a plethora of scientific and commercial functions, ranging from environmental monitoring to disaster management, marking a significant milestone for the UAE’s space and economic ambitions.