The UAE’s space programme will increasingly rely on local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as it prepares to launch the “Hope” spacecraft to Mars in July 2020, according to Salem Humaid Al Marri, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre’s assistant director-general for the Science and Technology Sector.
In an interview with Arabian Business on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow, Al Marri said that SMEs will gradually become more involved in the project over the course of the next five to 10 years.
“We want to start getting manufacturers, let’s say mechanical manufacturers, to start developing structures for us,” he said. “That would mean slightly tweaking what they do, improving their processes for the aerospace industry, and getting them involved in our project.”
“But also, we can get graduates to come with STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) backgrounds, to start opening their own businesses which would support the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and the UAE Space Agency,” he added. “Instead of designing components in-house and buying them manufactured from somewhere else, you can do that manufacturing here.”
Al Marri added that over the next decade the UAE’s space programme will lead to job creation in the UAE and throughout the region as more and more young people become interested in aerospace and science and technology-based occupations.
“You’re going to create high-tech jobs that will move your economy in ways you weren’t expecting before,” he said. “They might not necessarily work in the space business, but they can go and open up their own companies, spin-off from jobs the government is providing, and grow from there. The kick-off might be a bit slow but then it will grow exponentially.”
The Emirates Mars Mission is slated for launch in July 2020, and will arrive on Mars after a 39,600 kilometre journey in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. Its science and data-collection operations will continue on Mars until 2023.
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