Abu Dhabi Space Debate to discuss reducing space threats

Speakers also will highlight the rise of mega-constellations, the weaponisation of space assets and the role of space systems in defence, intelligence-gathering

Photo: WAM
Photo: WAM

Waheed Abbas

Published: Sun 4 Dec 2022, 12:10 PM

Last updated: Sun 4 Dec 2022, 9:38 PM

Abu Dhabi Space Debate (ADSD) will discuss some of the pressing issues including sustainability, access to space and reducing space threats, said Salem Al Qubaisi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency.

In addition, speakers also will highlight the rise of mega-constellations, the weaponisation of space assets and the role of space systems in defence and intelligence gathering during the two-day debate, he said.

Abu Dhabi Space Debate will be held on December 5 and 6 at Adnoc Business Centre where ministers, heads of state and senior public and private sector officials within and outside the UAE will attend the conference.

The key objectives of the ADSD are to become a diverse and inclusive global platform where leaders, policymakers, and experts in the space sector discuss the future of the space sector, identify areas of need and opportunity, and put forward ideas on a range of policy issues.

“The Debate will discuss three main issues facing the space sector – space sustainability, access to space, and reducing space threats. The debate will also discuss the geopolitical impacts of space exploration through to regulation and the respective roles to be played by the public and private sectors moving forward,” said Salem Al Qubaisi.

These are some of the top speakers at the Abu Dhabi Space Debate:

Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology, Chairwoman of UAE Space Agency

Dr George Friedman, Geopolitical Forecaster and Strategist on International Affairs; Founder and Chairman of Geopolitical Futures

Dr Sang-Ryool Lee President Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI)

Omran Sharaf, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Advanced Science and Technology Chairman, UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

Christian Hauglie-Hanssen, Director General Norwegian Space Agency (NOSA)

Brigadier General Thierry Blanc, Deputy Commander French Space Command

Salem Butti Salem Al Qubaisi, Director General UAE Space Agency

Faisal Al Bannai Secretary General Advanced Technology Research Council

Dr Ing. Thomas Reiter, Interagency Coordinator and Advisor to the Director General European Space Agency

Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani Minister of Foreign Affairs Kingdom of Bahrain

“The ADSD will address the stability and security of space assets in view of the political turmoil rockinxg the industry and the development of national science and technology programmes. In addition, leaders, experts and policymakers will highlight the rise of mega-constellations, the weaponization of space assets, sustainability and the role of space systems in defence and intelligence gathering,” he said.


The challenge of overcrowding space

The UAE Space Agency chief pointed out that overcrowded space has become a major international challenge. “The growth of the space sector has seen a surge in the number of launches and satellites in orbit. This growth creates new business opportunities but also leads to sustainability challenges on Earth and in space, such as orbital debris,” he added.

With the global space industry estimated to reach $1 trillion in revenue by 2040, the space economy will drive industrial growth and innovation across a range of sectors, and provide economic opportunities for an ever-growing number of rising space nations.

Being a pioneer in the Arab world, the UAE has launched a Dh3 billion fund, to support ground-breaking programmes with international and Emirati companies cooperating in space sector engineering, sciences and research applications.

5 research centres, 3 universities

Al Qubaisi revealed that the UAE has established five main research centres for space sciences and three universities to train Emirati cadres to strengthen Emirati human capital in the field of space.

“Today, the UAE is training its students in satellite design and manufacturing; developing satellite manufacturing capabilities in the country; promoting and inspiring entrepreneurship in the space sector; and supporting the UAE space initiatives and projects.”

He added that investing in advanced science, knowledge, space industries and future sciences serves UAE’s interests and ambitions and promote its participation in the global scientific movement to explore outer space and achieve the goals of the UAE Centennial 2071.

The UAE is also keen to strengthen partnerships, cooperation, and active local and global investments in the space industry, for the benefit of humanity.

Accelerating research

In October 2021, the UAE Space Agency announced the commencement of a new Emirati interplanetary mission, which involves an expedition to the asteroid belt beyond Mars. The mission is scheduled for launch in 2028.

“It is designed to further accelerate the young nation’s space engineering, scientific research and exploration capabilities and drive innovation and opportunity in the country’s private sector,” he added.

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