Space Diplomacy: UNOOSA and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre announce payload program awardees –

UNOOSA and MBRSC provide payload hosting on the Bin Rashid Space Center satellite platform as part of the PHI program. Developing countries have a significant opportunity through the program to demonstrate new technologies and build capacity. It promotes capacity building and space science and technology in developing countries.

For Salem Humaid AlMarri, director general of the MBRSC, this collaboration has made “tremendous strides” since the PHI program was first announced. According to AlMarri, the PHI-1 mission will seek to provide more opportunities for any units that have valuable scientific innovations to test them in space. AlMaari said this initiative “really shows how we can move forward with everyone’s effort and participation in space exploration.”

Acting UNOOSA Director Niklas Hedman hailed the Access to Space for All initiative as “breakthrough for 21st century capacity building in space science and technology”. Hedman is grateful for the support of UNOOSA’s partners in making “a real difference for teams and institutions around the world.” Hedman said he is already looking forward to “seeing the results of the PHI program to advance the space sector in Bahrain and Nepal.”

MBRSC will provide a spacecraft platform, launch and ground station for the PHI-1 mission, carrying the payload from Bahrain and Nepal. UNOOSA and MBRSC will continue to provide such payload hosting opportunities on future PHI missions.

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Payloads from Bahrain and Nepal

The two payloads onboard the PHI-1 mission are from the National Space Science Agency of the Kingdom of Bahrain (NSSA) and Antarikchya Pratisthan Nepal University.

The “AMAN” payload, developed by a Bahraini team, will test an optimized Advanced Encryption Standard that ensures secure communication between satellite and ground station.

Mohamed Al-Aseeri, Chief Executive Officer of the NSSA, expressed his gratitude and honor for the “Aman” project, which was selected by UNOOSA and MBRSC in the first round of the PHI initiative. Aman is believed to be the first Bahraini payload to be fully designed, integrated and tested by the NSSA. For Al-Aseeri, this opportunity is unprecedented in Bahrain’s “desire to make a meaningful contribution to global efforts towards the sustainable, peaceful uses of space and building national capacity in the space field.”

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Focusing on the behavior and operation of the system, the Danfe Space Mission from Nepal will study PX4 Autopilot, a middleware for drones in space. Teams from both countries will gain practical experience, knowledge and skills in space technology from the payloads.

Abhas Maskey, the founder of Antarikchya Pratisthan Nepal, expressed his desire for Nepal to advance “as a space nation” and that Nepal must seize every available opportunity to develop self-sufficiency, perform and build space capacity. Maskesy firmly believes that Nepal’s involvement in PHI-1 will be a small step toward future potential collaboration, particularly to one day launch Nepal’s first astronauts into space by 2050. Maskey said, “Space is the new frontier, even for Nepal.”

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Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, abbreviated as “MBRSC”, is a government agency of the Emirate of Dubai that manages a large part of the UAE’s space program, including the UAE Astronaut Program and the Mars al-Amal mission. The space center is based in al-Khwaneej 1 district in Dubai and its Director General is Salem Humaid al-Marri since January 20, 2022.

The center builds and operates satellites that provide satellite imagery and data analysis services to customers around the world. The satellites were developed by a team of Emirati engineers in the United Arab Emirates. The center also launched the Emirates Mars Mission Hope Probe, the first Arab interplanetary mission to reach Mars orbit on February 9, 2021.


Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center

National Space Science Agency of the Kingdom of Bahrain

Antarikchya Pratisthan Nepal

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