How the UAE will help modernise Baikonur launch site

Top official sheds light on newest trilateral agreement with Russia and Kazakhstan


Nandini Sircar

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Wed 17 Nov 2021, 2:58 PM

Last updated: Wed 17 Nov 2021, 2:59 PM

The UAE has joined a ‘trilateral agreement’ with Russia and Kazakhstan for the facelift of the world’s first c for orbital and human launches.

The UAE’s intention to join a ‘trilateral agreement’ for the facelift of the world’s oldest spaceport Gagarin’s Start for orbital and human launches is not only driven by economic motives but also for emotional reasons.

From the future of travel and the next frontier of business collaborations, encouraging sustainable growth, the cosmos and its related alliances certainly represent the next frontier of innovation for the Gulf country.

Ibrahim Al Qasim, deputy director general of the UAE Space Agency shed light on how the three countries have a sentimental link to the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site Gagarin’s Start -- also referred to as Site No. 1.

He opined, “We are looking at it from an investment perspective. On-boarding investments firms from all three countries has taken quite some time. This is definitely the government committing to upgrade the site and then pursuing this from an economic perspective. But the three countries have a sentimental link to the location as well.”

Gagarin’s Start has been the launch pad for the world's first human spaceflight made by Yuri Gagarin aboard Vostok I in 1961.

The launch site at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan (which is a part of the former Soviet Union) is used for the Soviet space program and now managed by Roscosmos as it is leased to Russia.

Al Qasim explains, “Our very first earth observation mission was launched from that spaceport -- Dubai Sat I in 2009, our first astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansouri was launched from that port. There is also a huge push from the private sector into the space sector whether its telecommunications, where its space access in terms of launch vehicles. So investing in space access is rapidly becoming a lucrative business.”


Space economic zone to amalgamate UAE space industry as global player

He then underlined efforts to support the creation of new Emirati and other aerospace companies that’ll contribute to the growth of a competitive and attractive ecosystem to consolidate the UAE space industry’s status as a global player.

“the UAE space agency is facilitating as a government and we are looking for private partners within the UAE to partake. There is a lot of interest”, averred Al Qasim.

He highlighted that the UAE space agency is also creating a fund to support the development of applications and the utilization of space data.

Al Qasim later says, “For the last 25 years the UAE has invested a lot in the upstream capabilities and we have an excess of the upstream capacity. We would now like to do a sustainability programme by getting the SMEs or private sectors involved in any downstream.”

Meanwhile, the ­country’s Space Investment Promotion Plan is already developing effective approaches to attract space businesses and increase investment into the UAE space industry.

“The space economic zone programme will open up across three emirates in the first phase to promote the establishment of these companies. At a later stage we will be announcing different types of grants to support these companies”, he added.

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