ABU DHABI - The UAE Space Agency announced the first batch of opportunities for startups, private companies, and research centres in the UAE to take part in the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt, the first-ever mission to explore and study seven asteroids of the main asteroid belt.

The invite came at the UAESA's participation in the “Make it in the Emirates” Forum, organised by the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT), in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and ADNOC, from 31st May to 1st June 2023, at the Abu Dhabi Energy Centre.

“Opening the door for the local private sector to participate in the upcoming Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt during the Forum reflects our commitment to promote the UAE's industrial capabilities and boost its private sector. Driven by our continuous efforts to create a sustainable and encouraging environment for investors and entrepreneurs, we empower local private companies to take part in the UAE's space sector and missions and help drive the growth of this sector,” said Salem Butti Salem Al Qubaisi, Director-General of the UAE Space Agency.

He added that the UAE Space Agency offers a solid investment environment and attractive incentives to enable the growth of local companies, promote their capabilities, creating better global market access.

"The National Space Fund provides vast growth opportunities offered to the space sector over the coming years, our aim is to create new growth channels for advanced innovation and technology companies in the UAE,” Al Qubaisi stated.

Mohsen Al Awadhi, Programme Director of the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt, said, “The ‘Make it in the Emirates’ Forum offers an ideal platform to introduce the local industry to the opportunities within the space industry's flagship programme. The UAE’s industry has been able to supply space-grade components that today are in orbit around Earth and Mars.

"We are looking forward to harnessing the expertise of the local private companies and their participation in this one-of-a-kind challenge to develop the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt and achieve the vision of the UAE’s government for this vital sector.”

In its first phase, the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt will provide over 30 opportunities for private companies to participate in executing the UAE’s most advanced and ambitious scientific mission to date.

The opportunities cover hardware development, including electrical parts, mechanical parts, system-wide analysis and ground support equipment. There are several system-level development opportunities from the deep space missions ground control centre, design of subsystems within the spacecraft, and the lander.

The mission will help boost the growth of capabilities within the Emirati space industry and provide priority access to contracts and procurement for the mission. It will also offer workshops and training programmes to train young Emirati talents and companies on component assembly and space subsystem engineering.

The mission is being developed in collaboration with several leading academic and technical partners, including Khalifa University, NYU Abu Dhabi, and UAEU’s National Space Science and Technology Centre (NSSTC), as well as national institutions such as the Technology Innovation Institute (TII), Yahsat Group, 971Space, Sadeem Space Solutions, and Marshal Intech.

The Emirate Mission to the Asteroid Belt is a key national scientific program, a thirteen-year mission, including six years for spacecraft development and a seven-year mission through the main asteroid belt beyond Mars, performing a series of close flybys to make unique observations of seven main belt asteroids.

The UAE spacecraft will travel in a 5-billion-kilometre journey bypassing Mars, performing gravity assist manoeuvres around Venus, followed by Earth, and finally, Mars, to boost the spacecraft’s “MBR Explorer” velocity and support its flyby campaign, with its first asteroid encounter taking place in February 2030 at the asteroid Westerwald, followed by Chimaera and Rockox. Subsequent flybys will occur through 2034 to the seventh asteroid, Justitia.