Revelations by Oman Investment Authority (OIA), the integrated sovereign wealth fund of the Sultanate of Oman, that it has taken an equity stake in SpaceX – the US based space exploration company founded by billionaire businessman Elon Musk – underscores the Omani government’s ambitions to develop a new economic sector around space and satellite communications.


Last week, OIA listed California-USA headquartered SpaceX among 20 local and international firms that it had recently added to its private equity portfolio following investments in these businesses.


SpaceX represents the boldest of OIA’s investments, estimated by experts to total around $17 billion and currently distributed across 36 countries around the world. Well-known for its design, manufacture and launch of advanced rockets and spacecraft, SpaceX was recently valued at around $100 billion, making it the world’s second most valuable private company (after Chinese tech startup ByteDance).


Although OIA did not disclose the size of its equity investment in SpaceX, it stressed that its broader objective transcends monetary returns alone. “The investment will advance in benefiting from the technologies owned by the company and create potential opportunities to transfer the company’s expertise and experience locally, which leads to opening prospects for foreign investments,” the wealth fund noted in a post last week.


Indeed, OIA’s announcement comes against a ramped-up effort by the government to ignite the growth of wider space and satellite communications activities in the Sultanate of Oman.


Late last year, the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MCTIT) revealed that the government is targeting the launch of the country’s first space satellite around 2024.


In conjunction with this goal, the Ministry also announced plans to appoint an international consultant to advise the government on the development of a national space strategy for the Sultanate of Oman.


 

 


A National Space Policy, the Ministry points out, will enable the government to, among other things, shape the strategic focus and contours of a future industry around space. In addition to attracting investment into the sector, it will also help in the development of national technical and industrial capabilities in various areas across the industry. Additionally, it will support international cooperation in the field of space, it stated.


A thriving space industry, according to the Ministry, is also imperative to the Sultanate of Oman’s future socioeconomic development. Due to the importance of current essential services aided by space / satellite technologies (eg: telecommunications, earth observations, environmental monitoring and protection, border monitoring and national security, meteorological services, etc) the country aims to reap the advantages of the sector in a strategic and well-coordinated approach, it noted.


Wholly government-owned Space Communications Technology LLC (SCT) – a subsidiary of OIA -- has been given the mandate to develop and implement the country’s maiden satellite communications project. Also as part of its remit, SCT is building national satellite communications infrastructure and developing the required capabilities to serve the immediate to long-term telecommunications needs of the public and private sectors.


Already, a local technology firm has snagged a prestigious contract to manufacture satellite components in the Sultanate of Oman. Muscat-based International Emerging Technology Company (ETCO) announced in October that it was selected by D-Orbit, an Italian aerospace company, to manufacture parts for small and medium satellites, as well as support space logistics. The pact will also contribute to the development of local competencies in space-related disciplines.


In recent years, SpaceX, founded by business magnate Elon Musk in 2002, has raised billions of dollars to fund two capital-intensive projects. One – the Starlink project – centres on a plan to build and install thousands of satellites in low orbit in space to deliver high-speed internet to consumers anywhere around the world. More than 1,700 Starlink satellites have been launched to date. Starship, the other project, is the name of a heavy, next-generation rocket that SpaceX is developing to support cargo and passenger missions to the moon and Mars.


 

2021 © All right reserved for Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising (OEPPA) Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

Disclaimer: The content of this article is syndicated or provided to this website from an external third party provider. We are not responsible for, and do not control, such external websites, entities, applications or media publishers. The body of the text is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis and has not been edited in any way. Neither we nor our affiliates guarantee the accuracy of or endorse the views or opinions expressed in this article. Read our full disclaimer policy here.