The Khalifa University of Science and Technology, the UAE Space Agency (UAESA), and Al Yah Satellite Communications (YahSat), have signed a three-way funding agreement to establish and operate the Khalifa University Space Technology and Innovation Center (KUSTIC).
KUSTIC will be firmly committed to scientific innovations and laying the foundations for further inspiring the UAE’s future space missions.
A virtual gathering in Abu Dhabi on the agreement was attended by Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, Dr. Eng Mohammed Nasser Al-Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology and Masood M. Sharif Mahmood, Chief Executive Officer of Yahsat.
The main objectives of KUSTIC will be to build capabilities and create a technical space hub through training UAE students in satellite design and manufacturing, conducting scientific research in space sector and applications, developing satellite manufacturing capabilities in the UAE, promoting and inspiring entrepreneurship in the space sector, supporting space science and technology initiatives of the UAE Space Agency, and focus on the design and assembly/integration/testing of small satellites through the Yahsat Space Lab.
KUSTIC will aim to achieve the UAE’s vision in space exploration, technologies, and applications. It will play a crucial role in building capabilities and creating a technical hub by training UAE students in satellite design and manufacturing, conducting scientific research in the space sector and applications, and developing satellite manufacturing capabilities in the UAE. It will also promote and inspire entrepreneurship in the space sector; while supporting space science and technology initiatives of the UAE Space Agency.
The Centre will incorporate the existing YahSat Space Lab (YSL), which was established in 2017 as the nationwide focal point in the design and Assembly/Integration/Testing (AIT) of CubeSats, both in terms of facilities and of expertise. All small satellite design, AIT and manufacturing activities of the Centre shall be performed at YSL. The lab produced and successfully launched the UAE’s first imaging CubeSat in 2018.
Dr. Al Falasi said: “We are looking forward to achieving a fruitful collaboration with Khalifa University of Science and Technology and YahSat that aims to enhance the interest of the youth in technology and innovation, and getting engaged in all areas of science, technology, engineering and math.”
Dr. Al Hammadi said: “As the UAE marches ahead with its ambitious plans for space missions, keeping pace with the technology advancements in this special industry has become not only essential for every institution in the country, but prudent as well. Top-ranked Khalifa University continues to remain the perfect training ground for students in science and technology.”
Dr. Al-Ahbabi said: “Our collaboration with Khalifa University of Science and Technology and YahSat will help in supporting the young Emiratis’ ambitions in working and being productive individuals in the space sector, thus enhancing the UAE’s leading status in the region and the world.”
Al Qubaisi said: “By guiding scores of aspiring engineers at Yahsat Space Lab, we have discovered an enormous pool of talent within the UAE, and would like to develop it further. Yahsat’s responsibilities as a technology mentor have increased manifold with the inception of the new Space Technology and Innovation Centre.”
KUSTIC will specifically empower the development of various research thrusts covering major aspects of space mission development. The projects and initiatives will benefit the UAE and contribute to key sectors of the national economy.
KUSTIC will also be an important partner in raising awareness about the space sector among the Emirati youth, and the importance of their role in the advancement of national research and development. Moreover, in addition focusing on the design and Assembly/Integration/Testing (AIT) of small satellites, the Center will aim to establish component, assemblies and subsystem manufacturing capabilities.
Two already existing Khalifa University Research Centers will contribute to KUSTIC’s activities: The KU Center for Autonomous Robotic Systems (KUCARS) and the KU Advanced Power and Energy Centre (APEC).