Expo 2020 Dubai: Countries must work together to bring space benefits to all, say experts

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Dubai - Top scientists, cosmonauts take part in a World Majlis as part of Space Week.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Mon 18 Oct 2021, 5:59 PM

Last updated: Mon 18 Oct 2021, 10:36 PM

Experts in the space sector have called for multilateral collaboration and regulatory frameworks to ensure that space exploration benefits all humanity and remains safe for all participants. Top scientists and cosmonauts took part in a World Majlis as part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s Space Week.

The panellists in the discussion, ‘Using Space for the Benefit of all Humanity’, organised in collaboration with Italy and Portugal, agreed that space exploration – and satellites in particular – had brought incredible benefits to humanity.

Drawing attention to ‘overcrowding’ in space, Sergei Krikalev, the executive director for Human Space Flights, State Space Corporation ‘Roscosmos’ of Russia and former cosmonaut said that the increasing trend of sending humans into space was fraught with danger. “There is a need for developing traffic rules, just as we have for road and air traffic. We also need to share resources that are already in space instead of each mission carrying more equipment,” he said.

Professor Steven Freeland, professor of International Law at Western Sydney University, Australia, said, “We must remember that sustainability in space and earth are interlinked. The human factor should remain at the heart of space exploration. The only way to ensure the equitable sharing of benefits is through multilateral cooperation.”

In the meanwhile, Ibrahim Al Qasim, space science advisor at the UAE Space Agency, said, “The UAE is a new entrant in the space exploration field. This is part of our efforts to diversify our economy. We believe this will enable our youth to engage in space-related activities. We are aware of the challenges, but we still believe that space is a fantastic platform for international collaboration.”

Meanwhile, the head of the UAE Mars mission stressed the importance of training more Emirati scientists, which is needed for a competitive post-oil economy. Omran Sharaf, project director of the Emirates Hope Mission to Mars, said, “To be able to have a competitive knowledge-based, post-oil economy, we need to have an advanced science and technology sector to address our national challenges.”

Sharaf was among the experts taking part in The Peoples Mission: Citizens in Space Exploration – a public-facing event that launched Space Week and was organised in association with the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), UAE Space Agency, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), and the USA and Mozambique Pavilions.

“It’s about survival. This is why it’s critical. This is why we need to have Emirati scientists, to help build solutions for us, and ultimately deliver systems that will work in space. Mars is a harsh environment, and we can develop the skills and design needed here, which can also be used for our survival as a nation, and that is critical for the sustainable development of the UAE, the region and the world.”

Referring to the UAE’s Hope probe, now orbiting Mars and gathering vital data about the planet, he said: “A young nation like the UAE, with more than 200 nationalities, has been able to reach Mars in less than 50 years. Over that time, we have built this nation together. So, the message here is, let’s put our differences aside and let’s work with the rest of the world. Let’s be integrated into the global system, and make scientists and engineers part of the journey.”

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