UAE space enthusiast to send ‘peace mission’ to space

Seventeen years ago, Namira Salim became the first person from the country to pay Dh734,000 to be a part of Virgin's commercial space flights


Nandini Sircar

Published: Thu 13 Jan 2022, 5:08 PM

Last updated: Thu 13 Jan 2022, 5:11 PM

In a few years from now, space could be filled with messages of peace.

A Dubai-based space diplomat, Namira Salim, is looking to send a peace mission to space through her non-profit Space Trust, via an international CubeSat.

The Pakistani expat is also trying to organise a peace summit in space for world leaders one day. In a few years' time, the Peace Satellite Project (PSP), an Earth-orbiting spacecraft, will carry recorded messages of peace from different world leaders, space industry leaders, leaders of multi-lateral bodies, peacemakers and youth.

Salim's non-profit has collaborated with two international universities that are helping with the development of CubeSat, a project that is ultimately a part of an overarching mission named (ZeroGravity) 0G Peace Mission 2030 (0G2030), which supports the UN's Sustainable Development Agenda of 2030.

In an interview with Khaleej Times, Salim said the mission aims to utilise outer space to pave the way for "space diplomacy on Earth."

“The initiative will galvanise our common humanity, harness the power of space to unite nations in the midst of an increasingly divisive world, and encourage public-private partnerships," she said.

Salim added that she would love to see messages from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, in space.

Salim, who has been based in the UAE since 1981, is the first person from the country who paid Dh734,000 to be a part of Virgin's commercial space flights 17 years ago.

“Space can be a sustainable tool for peace making on Earth. The rationale is space is opening to all sectors, so why not open it to politicians and world leaders to create a paradigm shift in their minds because that is from where they can see a world beyond political boundaries," she said.

When astronauts go to space, Salim noted that they experience an 'overview effect', which is when borders disappear and the realisation hits that we are all in one universe.

"This has always inspired astronauts over the ages, so that whoever goes to space comes back thinking about peace on Earth and how we shouldn’t have wars and we all should be united," she said. "With the commercialisation of space, the first step is to engage world leaders and make them participate in this initiative and make space a place of peace through this mission called the (ZeroGravity) 0G Peace Mission 2030 (0G2030)."

Peace summit in space for world leaders

Salim, a proponent of space tourism, said she is trying to encourage world leaders and governments to go to space and have a summit there.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affiars has 0G2030 teams as one of the two finalists for the free launch opportunity with an Italian launch provider.

Explaining the initiative further, Salim said: "It's a student-led initiative and there will be two payloads. The main payload will be peace messages and then there’ll be two more payloads from each university, which will be student payloads. Everything is done through a curriculum development programme based on STEM education and capacity building. I would also invite universities in the UAE to come forward and learn from our experiences and our online workshops.”

The PSP spacecraft will adopt the Nanosatellite Platform for University of Nairobi (NaSPUoN), which is currently a 1U (bench model) CubeSat.

The flight model, incorporating PSP and NaSPUoN, is envisioned to be upgraded to a 3U CubeSat.

“The University of Arizona shall develop the antenna to broadcast the peace messages and provide ground system support for its operation. It will also provide environmental qualification for the fully integrated satellite,” said Dr Dante Lauretta, Regents, Chief Scientist for the Peace Satellite Project (PSP), Professor of Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and Principal Investigator for Nasa's OSIRIS-REx, the first Asteroid Sample Return Mission.


“Students from the University of Nairobi will gain satellite design and development experience via those working on CatSat1, a 6U CubeSat being developed at University of Arizona,” he added.

Thus, the spacecraft is not only focused on promoting global peace and international cooperation, but it also aims to train space generation leaders through a STEM-based capacity building program between a developed and developing country.

Professor Mwangi Mbuthia, the chair of Kenya Space Agency Research at the University of Nairobi and principal investigator of the Nanosatellite Platform for the University of Nairobi, said: “Our students will gain experience in design of mobile applications that help incorporate, integrate and disseminate satellite data such as peace messages and develop and transform it into a three-unit CubeSat.”

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