Space flights to take off with new UAE law
The space law is forward-looking and it's paving the road and environment for the private sector and the space economy.
The UAE's soon-to-be-approved space law will aim to welcome space tourism companies to invest and operate in the country, a top UAE official has said. Local and foreign investors will be protected under the law, as it will give them "security and the right environment" to make their investments.
"Space tourism is coming and it's a trend worldwide. Our law is an advance for that. We will have a document that legalises and also regulates space flights. It's not there yet, but it's coming. It has put the right regulation for these kinds of activities. The law is addressing space tourism," the director-general of the UAE Space Agency, Dr Mohammed AlAhbabi, told Khaleej Times.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the agency's fifth anniversary celebrations.
In the past few years, there has been a major boost in the number of private space companies. Many of these entities offer governments a launcher to send their satellites to orbit.
For example, the UAE tied up with a firm called Arianespace recently for the launch of its Falcon Eye 1 satellite. However, the satellite was destroyed after the rocket launcher failed. The country will be launching its backup satellite, Falcon Eye 2, by the end of this year.
The UAE has used other commercial firms to launch nine of their satellites. Now, this new law will allow these kinds of companies to operate from the UAE - significantly boosting the country's space economy.
As Khaleej Times reporter earlier this year, the UAE Space Agency signed a MoU with ADAC and a MoU with Virgin Galactic. The project is being overseen by the UAE Space Agency.
When built and operational, space tourism is expected to boom in the country. More than 600 tickets have already been sold for these flights and seats are fully booked until 2021. Each ticket costs $250,000, but prices are expected to go down after a few years.
"The space law is forward-looking and it's paving the road and environment for the private sector, space economy and to protect our space players. We have a lot of experts who helped us develop this law. We presented it to the government and it was approved," Dr AlAhbabi said. "Now, we are in the final stages of issuing it. It will give us the right environment for people to invest in space because foreign investment is important and it'll give them protection and regulation of their investments. It's a law that's friendly, dynamic and one of the best. This will encourage the private sector companies, local or foreign, to step in."
UAE's top 5 achievements in space
>First Emirati astronaut will jet off to space on September 25
>The country is sending an unmanned probe to Mars in July 2020
>World's first simulation of a Mars city being launched in Dubai within three to four years
>The Arab Space Coordination Group was formed, uniting 11 Arab states to work on joint space projects. Their first project is developing the 813 satellite
>UAE is planning to build an entire city on Mars by 2117
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