Monday, February 26

UAE seeks corporations to construct asteroid belt spacecraft 2023

The UAE Space Agency is seeking business partners for its most ambitious space project, a voyage to an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

On Wednesday, ‘Space Means Business’ debuted, offering 30 possibilities for local and international enterprises to build the MBR Explorer spacecraft.

It will fly by six asteroids and arrive on the seventh in 2028 on a five-billion-kilometer trek.

In an interview with The National, Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt programme head Mohsen Al Awadhi said 84 UAE space businesses have expressed interest.

“This campaign is making all the opportunities available to businesses very clear,” he added.

Boosting UAE economy

The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder was contracted to create the mission, but the space agency expects the private sector to build 50% of the spacecraft.

It’s the agency’s latest effort to boost the economy through space.

The agency’s business seminars began on June 22 to identify private sector engagement opportunities.

“From software development to mission control, we are committed to a private sector first approach to developing the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt,” Mr. Mohsen added.

“Software and hardware systems design and delivery, subsystem assembly, solar power and other electrical systems development, mission operations and management—the opportunities are truly endless.”

The space agency believes this mission would lead to more UAE startups, international alliances, and space sector investment.

Investigative science

The spacecraft will examine unknown asteroids rich in water, benefiting science.

The asteroid belt may reveal how Earth and other planets evolved.

After six years building the spacecraft, the expedition will take seven years to reach the belt.

With $700 quintillion worth of minerals including iron, gold, and nickel in the asteroid belt, EMA might potentially pave the way for asteroid resource exploitation.

The mission plan can only be executed once, therefore EMA must launch in three weeks from March 3, 2028.

To reach the asteroid belt, the spaceship will use Venus, Earth, and Mars’ gravity.

MBR Explorer will fly 150km from its seven target asteroids at 33,000km/h.

In July 2028, it will meet Venus.

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