This pioneering project is the first of its kind in the Arab world
The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) successfully launched the first mission of the Payload Hosting Initiative (PHI), the PHI-Demo satellite, on Tuesday, marking a major milestone in the UAE’s history of space exploration and innovation.
The PHI-Demo satellite aboard a Soyuz-2 rocket lifted off from Russia’s Vostochny cosmodrome at 3.34pm UAE time. All mechanical components of this pioneering project, the first of its kind in the Arab world, were built in the UAE in partnership with the private sector.
The satellite will be positioned at an altitude of approximately 550 km and will be operated by MBRSC and laboratories of partner universities American University Ras Al Khaimah University and Khalifa University.
Together with the 930 UAE team, MBRSC built the ‘platform’, the shell of the PHI-Demo satellite that carries the payload. The product of local innovation and skills, this carefully designed project in the UAE is the backbone of the pioneering PHI programme. The project, jointly led by MBRSC and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), heralds a new era of international cooperation in space exploration, promoting the sustainable development of innovative space technologies.
Reflecting on the achievement, His Excellency Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director General of MBRSC, said: “The successful launch of PHI-Demo, a satellite built entirely in the UAE, marks a major milestone in our nation’s space journey. This milestone is testament to that.” This is a recognition of our unwavering commitment and growing capabilities in space technology. At MBRSC, our vision includes nurturing an ecosystem of innovation and excellence where partnerships with the private sector help foster knowledge exchange, facilitate breakthrough discoveries’ and develop the next generation of Emirati space pioneers. As we move forward We remain guided by our spirit of innovation and our steadfast determination to advance our nation’s role in contributing to global space exploration and technological development.”
The state-of-the-art 12U modular satellite platform hosts two partner technology payloads, including an advanced IoT communications payload developed by OQ Technology, a UAE-based start-up under MBRSC’s Space Ventures programme, which Data collection will be achieved utilizing state-of-the-art 5G technology for transmission from IoT devices. The satellite is also equipped with a revolutionary green propulsion subsystem developed by UK-based SteamJet, which uses water as the primary propellant, embodying a sustainable approach to space propulsion.
The PHI-Demo satellite, scheduled to operate for one year, will make a significant contribution to the evolving space technology and reinforce MBRSC’s commitment to push the boundaries of scientific discovery and technological innovation. The successful launch further lays the groundwork for an exciting new chapter in space exploration, reinforcing the UAE’s position as a pioneer of innovation and growth in space technology.
Over the next few days, the MBRSC team will launch, activate and test the payload as it operates over the UAE. MBRSC, in partnership with Khalifa University and the American University of Ras Al Khaimah, will conduct the command operation, which will be handled through a ground station on the university’s campus and led by the university’s faculty.
Zakaria Al Shamsi, Program Manager, Payload Hosting Programme, MBRSC, noted: “The successful launch of PHI-Demo and its advanced payload is a testament to the dedication and expertise of our UAE engineers. The development and launch of PHI-Demo has given us insight into the way forward. We have gained a deep understanding of the challenges ahead and the strategies to overcome them. This knowledge, combined with our unwavering determination, gives us tremendous confidence in our readiness for future missions.”