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MBRSC begins environmental testing for MBZ-SAT satellite

MBZ-SAT, which is fully developed and built by a team of Emirati engineers, is scheduled for launch no earlier than October 2024.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has announced the commencement of environmental testing for MBZ-SAT, the most advanced satellite in the region. This follows the transportation of the flight model to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) testing facility in South Korea.

A 36-member team of engineers from MBRSC, led by Amer AlSayegh AlGhaferi, Assistant Director General of the Aerospace Engineering Sector at MBRSC, is currently in South Korea overseeing the final preparations for MBZ-SAT before its launch. The environmental testing phase, expected to span two months, will be meticulously conducted and monitored by MBRSC engineers under the guidance of Tariq AlNasser, Environmental Test Manager. The four essential tests—Thermal Vacuum (TVAC), Vibration, Acoustic, and Mass Properties—are critical for verifying the satellite’s resilience and functionality under the demanding conditions of space.

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, and President of MBRSC, has officially approved the launch of MBZ-SAT, scheduled for no earlier than October 2024. The satellite will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket during the Transporter-12 Rideshare mission, as the latest addition to the UAE Satellite Programme.

Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director General, MBRSC, said: “We are making steadfast progress towards the intended launch of MBZ-SAT later this year. Through the exceptional talent and innovative capabilities of our dedicated team of engineers and scientists, we have now entered the critical phase of Environmental Testing, to ensure the satellite’s resilience against the rigours of launch and space operations. As we advance through this significant milestone, we eagerly anticipate the upcoming phases of preparation. Our focus remains on pushing the boundaries of space science and engineering, furthering our contributions to technological advancements and sustainable development on Earth.”

Amer AlSayegh AlGhaferi, Assistant Director General of the Aerospace Engineering Sector, MBRSC, added: “The environmental testing phase is a crucial step to ensure the MBZ-SAT’s readiness to operate in the harsh environment of space. Our team of engineers is conducting these tests at the KARI testing facility to ensure the highest levels of accuracy and quality, which aligns with the Centre’s vision to develop advanced space technology and enhance the UAE’s position in space exploration. We look forward to the successful completion of these tests and work towards launching the satellite as scheduled.”

The satellite’s environmental testing sequence will begin with Thermal Vacuum (TVAC) testing, simulating space conditions of extreme temperature and vacuum. Following TVAC, Vibration testing will assess the satellite’s structural integrity under mechanical stresses encountered during launch and operation. Acoustic testing will replicate the intense sound pressure levels experienced during launch, ensuring the satellite can withstand such conditions without damage. Finally, Mass Properties testing will precisely measure and characterise the satellite’s mass distribution, aiding in accurate deployment and trajectory calculations in space. This thorough evaluation ensures the satellite’s readiness for safe and reliable operation in space.

Upon successful completion of the environmental testing phase, MBZ-SAT will be transported to the United States for final preparations before the scheduled launch.

Fully developed and built by a team of Emirati engineers, MBZ-SAT represents a significant technological advancement and plays a crucial role in bolstering the UAE’s sustainable space economy. The satellite’s development engaged local companies in manufacturing nearly 90% of its mechanical structures and most of its electronic modules, significantly advancing the regional localisation of aerospace industries.