RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will launch two satellites in 2013 and 2015 as part of a space science development strategy, Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed, KACST vice president for Research Institutes told the 2nd Saudi International Space and Aeronautics Technology Conference yesterday.
He said SAUDISAT4 and SAUDI GEO1 equipped with highly sensitive devices and cameras would conduct various scientific experiments. The Space Research Institute at King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology has already launched 12 satellites from Baikonur space station in Kazakhstan for communication and other purposes.
“It aims to make Saudi Arabia a leading supplier of earth monitoring products from space, interactive maps and strengthen satellite capabilities,” the prince said.
He said the Kingdom will collaborate with some of the world’s most reputable partners, including NASA, in space exploration.
The global meeting was organized by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). It is held in association with the 25th Planetary Congress of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) scheduled through Saturday.
The decision reflects the importance that the country attaches to the use of space technology for peaceful purpose.
Turki said it has a system to receive and analyze space photos. The KACST Space and Aeronautics Technology Program also has several agreements in place to work alongside teams from the US, India and Russia and memorandums of understanding with Ukraine and France to develop and build new satellites.
In his presentation on the KSA National Plan for Science, Prince Turki said in 2020 KSA will be a leading science, technology and innovation (STI) country in Asia and transform the country into a knowledge-based economy. He said Saudi Arabia has budgeted the plans that ends in 2025 for SR 8 billion.
He noted that in addition to the satellite program, KACST has also embarked on a major program to assist outstanding students to conduct research at US labs as part of efforts to produce a new generation of Saudi space scientists. This program will allow Saudi students to conduct research programs on board US space stations, opening new horizons for them in space science.
Other areas that scientists are participating in the KACST Space and Aeronautics Program include the design, development and production of aeronautic technology. This includes leading airborne radio frequency and EO sensor solutions for fast jet and transport aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
KACST is currently working on several projects, including the Gravity Probe-B Experiment. There is also an ongoing partnership between the Saudi Lunar and Near-Earth Object Science Center and NASA’s Lunar Science Institute.
KACST will focus on 15 technological areas that have been identified as critical for KSA, such as water, oil and gas, petrochemicals, nanotechnology, information technology, electronics and communications, space and aeronautics, energy environment, advanced materials, mathematics and physics, medical and health and building and construction.
Khaled Al-Sabti, vice minister in the Ministry of Education and secretary-general of Mawhiba Foundation, said Saudi Arabia is going through a major phase of massive economic shift and social transformation.
He said the Kingdom is guided by a vision to transform the Saudi society into a knowledge-based one that maximizes the value of its citizens, resources, products and services through innovation and creativity. “Saudi Arabia is a very youthful nation,” he said. “Fifty percent of our population is under the age of 25.”
Al-Sabti said that Saudi Arabia now has more than 33,000 schools, over 5 million students and more than half a million teachers. He said the number of students, schools, and teachers doubles every 10 years with equal access opportunities for both males and females throughout the country.
Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, president of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, said challenges to space programs include providing clean and affordable energy, preventing environmental degradation, meeting new needs for education, sustainable global economic competitiveness, improving technologies for transportation and medical care, promoting beneficial international relations and ensuring national security. Prunariu said space systems today play a vital role in government, business, personal communications, positioning and navigation in weather monitoring and forecasting. Space systems also help in producing remote-sensing information for agriculture, urban land-use planning and natural resources management in addition to commercial enterprises in opening new windows on humanity’s place in the cosmos.
The space exploration segment of the conference will examine current experience and knowledge of space exploration and its evolving future in an era where it plans to send humans deeper into outer space for peaceful purpose in the interest of economic development.
It will also examine subjects from astrophysics of black holes to testing the theory of relativity and launching satellites. The experiments that astronauts have carried out in space have had a profound impact on man’s understanding of the universe.
It was pointed out that the international space and aeronautics sector has witnessed increasing competitiveness and significant technological advancement in recent years. Accordingly, space and aeronautics systems and technologies have become a key component of the Kingdom’s economic, scientific and national security capabilities.
A KACST official said that the current global environment for space and aeronautics technologies presents significant opportunities for Saudi Arabia as the Kingdom is well placed to contribute to the regional development of these technological systems.
The combination of university and government based-research and technical capabilities along with an industrial focus on technical applications and commercialization provides a substantial foundation for further development of the space and aeronautical sector in the Kingdom.
Since KACST is both the Kingdom’s national science agency and its national laboratories, its responsibilities include developing science, technology and innovation policy and programs, as well as funding external research that contributes toward advancing science, technology and innovation in the Kingdom.
KACST coordinates the development and implementation of the Kingdom’s national plan for science, technology and innovation and the various initiatives and programs of the various stakeholders in the government and the private sectors.
KACST has also entered into special international collaborations with the global technological leaders in key areas to advance the Kingdom’s policies and aims. It is focusing its programs on developing a set of 16 strategic technologies and scientific fields for the Kingdom, prominent among which is Space and Aeronautics Technologies.
The KACST Space and Aeronautics Technology Program has been set up to research and find solutions for the specific needs that Saudi Arabia has in space exploration and aeronautics. There are several research thrusts in which KACST scientists are focusing their efforts, mainly on the design, development and building of satellites for Earth observation, telecommunications, navigation and launch services, and on aeronautic and aviation themes.
The week-long congress and the KSA International Space and Aeronautics Conference provide an opportunity for communication between members of the international space community, government agencies, the Kingdom’s space and aeronautics sector stakeholders and the public.
The Association of Space Explorers (ASE) is an international nonprofit professional and educational organization of over 350 individuals from 35 nations who have flown in space. Founded in 1985, ASE’s mission is to provide a forum for professional dialogue among individuals who have been in outer space, support space science and exploration for the benefit of all, promote education in science and engineering, foster greater environmental awareness and encourage international cooperation in the human exploration of space.
The Planetary Congress is ASE’s primary forum for professional exchange among US, Russian and international astronauts. It is designed to promote the exchange of space flight experiences and technical information concerning space operations, scientific research, mission development and astronaut training. ASE members meet to review and discuss developments in their respective space programs, to evaluate existing ASE programs and plan future ASE activities.