International Conference on Space Operations kicks off in Dubai

Dubai’s hosting of the premier event for the first time in the Arab world closely follows the launch of Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi’s six-month milestone mission at the International Space Station (ISS).

The 17th edition of the International Conference on Space Operations (SpaceOps 2023), hosted by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and the International Committee on Technical Interchange for Space Mission Operations and Ground Data Systems, kicked off at the Dubai World Trade Centre. It is the first time this global event is being held in the Arab world. The conference runs until March 10.

The event hosts a range of space-oriented plenary sessions, informative lectures, in-depth technical sessions, and interactive workshops. SpaceOps 2023 also provides a distinctive networking opportunity for space industry entities through the space science exhibition.

At the opening ceremony, Hamad Al Mansoori, Chairman of MBRSC, Yousuf Al Shaibani, Deputy Chairman of MBRSC, Salem Humaid Al Marri, Director-General of MBRSC, and Ali Al Hashimi, CEO of Yahsat, were accompanied by distinguished guests comprising heads of global space agencies and members of the international diplomatic corps.

SpaceOps 2023 has brought together more than 1,000 registered attendees, 25 world-renowned sponsors and exhibitors, professionals, delegates, and space experts for the first-ever space event of its kind in the Middle East.

The international forum, with the theme “Invest in space to serve Earth and beyond”, offers delegates a valuable opportunity to explore all aspects of space mission operations, including specialised areas such as robotics, human, earth-orbiting, and deep space operations. The event provides insights into the latest technologies and opportunities in the space sector, showcasing how advanced space technologies can contribute to finding solutions for the future of humanity.

The UAE in general and the MBRSC in particular have made significant investments in the space sector in recent years to develop a sustainable space economy and enhance the country’s scientific and technological capabilities.

During the first day of the conference, Salem Humaid Al Marri, Director-General of MBRSC, participated in the plenary session on “International Collaborations on Space Missions,” along with Philippe Baptiste, President of CNES, and Ricardo Conde, President of Portugal Space. The session was moderated by Badri Younes, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Communications and Navigation.

Day one of SpaceOps 2023 also featured oral presentations of abstracts and papers that highlight unique and innovative practices, technologies, and experiences from which others in the space exploration community can benefit.

Additionally, the day included a special session on “Life Science Mission Ops to Space,” which featured presentations by Dr Cassandra M. Juran from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Department of Aerospace Physiology, USA, Dr Eliah G. Overbey, a Postdoctoral Associate at Mason Lab Institute for Computational Biomedicine and NASA Space Biology Postdoctoral Fellow at Weill Cornell Medicine, USA, and Prof. Joseph Borg from the Department of Applied Biomedical Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Malta, Msida, Malta.

Commenting on the conference, MBRSC Director-General Al Marri said: “Hosting this edition of SpaceOps is a significant milestone for MBRSC as well as the larger Arab region, and it is an honour to be at the forefront of promoting space exploration and innovation on a global scale. This event is not only a reflection of our commitment to advancing the space sector in the UAE and the region, but also our belief in the power of collaboration and inclusivity to achieve great things in the space industry. SpaceOps 2023, with its inclusive and multi-disciplinary approach, will aid in these efforts by providing a platform for development in space technology and capacity building for a diverse group of stakeholders to benefit from space exploration for economic, social, and environmental advancement.”

Adnan Al Rais, Local Organising Committee Chair at MBRSC, added: “The hosting of the prestigious SpaceOps 2023 will encourage new ideas and broaden the boundaries of innovation, which will help advance the space industry in the region and around the world. We also believe that this conference will play an important role in fostering a collaborative space ecosystem, leaving a lasting impression, forming critical alliances, and bridging knowledge gaps with leading international space organisations and agencies for the benefit of humanity. Hosting this prestigious event for the first time in the Arab world underscores the UAE’s commitment to the development and growth of the space industry in the region and around the world.”

Over the coming days, the forum will feature plenary sessions on various other topics, including Space Traffic Management – Needs and Solutions, Lunar Communications and International Interoperability, and Planetary Defense, with speakers from global agencies such as NASA, ESA, SANSA, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, as well as academic and research institutes and space technology organisations.

Sami W. Asmar, Secretary-General of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems and its NASA delegate as well as Liaison to the Interagency Operations Advisory Group, will be the keynote speaker at the conference, speaking on the topic, “Standards and Interoperability for Space Missions Success.” The MBRSC team will also participate in a plenary session on the topic “MBRSC Missions: From Earth to Mars passing by Moon.”