Abu Dhabi marks its space

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Abu Dhabi marks its space

Abu Dhabi has stepped into space as its first satellite, which would provide military, commercial as well as civilian communication, was successfully launched on Saturday.

By Haseeb Haider

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Published: Sat 23 Apr 2011, 11:24 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:20 AM

The Ariane 5 rocket carrying Y1A of Yahsat, a unit of Abu Dhabi’s investment arm the Mubadala Development Company, lifted off from the European Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, at 1.37am Abu Dhabi time on Saturday, a company statement said.

Y1A is part of $1.6-billion satellite programme which will be completed when another satellite will be fired into space in the last quarter of the year.

Y1A is the fifth satellite sent by the UAE into space for communication purposes.

Thuraya, a satellite communications company, has sent three geo-mobile satellites into orbit to provide voice and date communication services.

Dubai’s DubaiSat1 is a remote-sensing satellite launched in July 2009.

The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology which launched the spacecraft announced its plans to send another satellite — DubaiSat-2 I — in 2012.

“I would like to express my pride and gratitude during this moment of achievement,” said Jassem Mohamed Al Zaabi, Chief Executive Officer of Yahsat.

“This success is the direct result of the unwavering vision, dedication and hard work of our leadership, Mubadala, the UAE Armed Forces and the entire Yahsat team. As a result of this work, we have not only stepped into space, but have taken a significant stride in driving economic diversification and progress with our partners across the UAE.

“Over the next six to eight weeks, the satellite will be operational,” Al Zaabi said in an interview with Khaleej Times from the launch site in Kourou.

Giving details on the spacecraft, he said that Y1A has two main segments — military and government, and commercial services.

The commercial segment includes telecasting and data transmission services. For the military services, the chief executive said, “We have signed an agreement with the UAE Armed Forces to offer voice and data services.”

On the range of services to be offered to the government, he said, “The satellite will connect the UAE embassies and diplomatic missions abroad, apart from linking oil rigs and other installations and the government facilities in remote areas.”

Over the next few days, Y1A will undertake a series of manoeuvres before arriving at its final point of operation, 52.5 degrees east, above the UAE.

After arriving in position, control of the satellite will be managed by a team of Emirati satellite engineers based out of the Yahsat control station in Al Falah, Abu Dhabi.

The satellite was initially scheduled to be launched into space on March 31, when it was postponed due to technical issues.

EADS Astrium was awarded a contract to handle the space segment of the two satellites while Thales Alenia Space is managing the ground segment.

The second satellite Y1B will be sent into the orbit some time in the fourth quarter of the year, to offer Internet services in the Middle East, North Africa and South West Asia region, a market where telecommunication firms dominate the broadband offerings.

A Satellite Control Centre has been setup in the Capital to control the orbit of the satellite and adjust its position, manage the payload and monitor the operations of the satellite.

Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi, Chairman of Yahsat, said: “The launch of Y1A will support the continued economic diversification of the emirate.”

The successful launch of Y1A “is a tremendous step forward in delivering an advanced technology and communications offering based here in Abu Dhabi,” he said.

haseeb@khaleejtimes.com



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