• The MBZ-Sat has been in development in Dubai for years
  • The MBRSC partnered with Emirati firms to manufacture the satellite
  • It is three times more powerful than its predecessor, KhalifaSat

The UAE is set to launch the most advanced imaging satellite in the region, MBZ-Sat, into space next year.

Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) Director General Salem Humaid Al Marri took to Twitter Monday to announce the development of the 800-kilogram project.

"Around 14 years ago, #MBRSC launched its first Earth observation satellite, with environmental monitoring as one of its key objectives. Today, we are developing #MBZSAT, which will be the region's most advanced high-accuracy, high-resolution imaging satellite," he wrote.

"It will monitor environmental changes, water quality, and assist in agricultural development, among other purposes. Our key objective is to strengthen the role of the space sector in achieving the environmental strategies of the UAE, and preserve our planet and its resources. #WorldEnvironmentDay," he added.

Named after President Sheikh Mohamed, the satellite has been in development in Dubai for years and will launch into space in 2024. Three times more powerful than its predecessor KhalifaSat, MBZ-Sat will be carried into orbit on a SpaceX ride-share mission next year onboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

In manufacturing the satellite, the MBRSC has partnered with five private firms, such as aerospace manufacturing firm Strata, engineering solutions firm EPI, management consultancy Rockford Xellerix, precision-guided systems manufacturer Halcon and inventory management company Falcon Group.

The space center hopes to support the domestic space industry through the mission by ensuring that the majority of its mechanical components and half of its electronic modules are being developed in the UAE, The National reported.

MBZ-Sat will feature a fully automated image scheduling and processing system to enable it to produce 10 times more images than the MBRSC currently does. Meanwhile, its downlink data transmission speed is expected to be three times faster than the KhalifaSat.

"With Strata Manufacturing, we are developing the structure," Al Marri said, as per the outlet. "While with Falcon, we are working on the mechanical elements. With Rockford Xellerix, we are developing the cabling harness."

"The aluminum used in MBZ-Sat is also made in the UAE and is the first aluminum produced globally using solar power. It was developed in partnership with Emirates Global Aluminum and Gulf Extrusions," he added.

Imaging Satellite
Representational image: Imaging satellite