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MBRSC and UNOOSA announce payload programme awardees

UNOOSA and MBRSC to carry innovations from Bahrain and Nepal to space on the PHI-1 satellite.
(LtoR) Niklas Hedman UNOOSA_Janardhan Silwal Antarikchya Pratisthan Nepal_Mohamed Al-Aseeri NSSA_Salem Humaid AlMarri Director General of MBRSC

Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have announced two winning payloads for PHI-1.

Under the MoU signed last year at the 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC) held in Dubai, UNOOSA and MBRSC together will strive to accelerate and foster innovation in the space technology sector by extending their support and knowledge to the world.

As part of the new announcement, PHI-1 will provide a 5U slot within the 12U modular setup of the satellite to the National Space Science Agency of the Kingdom of Bahrain (NSSA) and the Antarikchya Pratisthan Nepal to onboard their novel projects and test them in space with the necessary assistance.

The “AMAN” payload conceptualised by the team from Bahrain will test an optimised Advanced Encryption Standard, which aims to secure communication between the satellite and the ground station. While the “Danfe Space Mission” of Nepal will study the operation of PX4 Autopilot, a middleware for drones in space, with a focus on how the system’s behaviour and operation. Both the winning payloads will provide practical experience, knowledge, and skills to the teams and will contribute to capacity-building in space technology.

As part of the UNOOSA initiative ‘Access to Space for All’, PHI-1 will facilitate the end goal to ensure that no one is left behind on the path to space exploration and sustainable development on Earth.

Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director General of MBRSC, said: “We have made tremendous progress in the year since the initial announcement of the Payload Hosting Initiative. Today we are congratulating the entities that have been selected to participate in the PHI-1 mission. This joint effort supports capacity-building and promotes space science and technology in developing countries and is an important opportunity for innovation and new technology demonstration. This truly testifies, how with everyone’s efforts and participation, we can advance in space exploration.”

UNOOSA Acting Director Niklas Hedman added: “The Access to Space for All initiative has been ground-breaking for the 21st-century capacity-building in space science and technology. We are grateful for the support of our partners, thanks to which we can make a real difference for teams and institutions all around the world. I already look forward to seeing the results of the PHI programme boosting the space industry in Bahrain and Nepal.”

PHI as an initiative is intended to contribute to broadening space activities, and its application to advancing human resource development in line with the mission and objectives of Sustainable Development Goals.

CEO of NSSA Mohamed Al-Aseeri commented: “We are delighted and honoured that the “Aman” project was selected by UNOOSA and MBRSC in the first round of the PHI initiative. Aman is considered the first Bahraini payload fully designed, integrated, and tested by NSSA. This opportunity is unprecedented in our quest to contribute meaningfully to the global effort towards sustainable, peaceful use of outer space and building national capacity in the space field.”

Abhas Maskey, Founder of Antarikchya Pratisthan Nepal, noted: “If Nepal is to progress as a spacefaring nation, the country has to take each and every opportunity available to develop self-reliance, perform R&D and build capacity for space. I strongly believe that Nepal’s involvement in PHI-1 will be a small step toward future potential collaboration for Vision 2050, a vision to launch our nation’s first astronaut in space by 2050. Space is the new limit, even for Nepal.”

This initiative will further raise awareness to utilise the space sector as a driver for economic and social development and look at it as a long-term driver for innovation and strengthening international cooperation on an all-inclusive basis.