Today in History: launch of the UAE’s first Earth observation satellite

The UAE entered the Earth observation satellite club 11 years ago today. On 29th July 2009, DubaiSat-1 was successfully launched from the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan, onboard the Dnepr launch vehicle.

The launch of DubaiSat-1 had a far-reaching impact on the UAE’s space sector and pioneered many more missions that put it on the list of leading space-faring nations. The satellite also played a critical role in developing the first Emirati team of engineers with first-hand experience of space sciences.

The DubaiSat-1 provided ground-breaking work related to Earth observation. It was used to compile and publish the UAE’s first atlas built entirely by a team of Emirati cartographers, engineers, and researchers. The satellite also played an important role in supporting relief efforts in areas devastated by earthquakes and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011.

His Excellency Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General, MBRSC, said: “We celebrate the 11th anniversary of the launch of the UAE’s first satellite with pride. DubaiSat-1 strengthened the UAE’s position in the global space sector and was the beginning of several projects that benefitted the community. Additionally, the project also developed the first team of Emirati engineers who were involved in its manufacture and took full responsibility for its operation. It has enabled the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in successfully creating a knowledge base revolved around advanced technology which in turn has produced human capital capable of manufacturing and operating satellites.”

“We continue to strengthen the UAE and its global leadership role in the space sector through ambitious projects such as these and improve our experience in the sector locally, regionally and internationally,” he added. 

Years of experience in satellite manufacturing and operation have laid the foundation for strong Emirati engineering expertise and knowledge base in this sector. It has, in turn, allowed the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre to build a dedicated base for the manufacture of satellites and its operation, expanding and pioneering such projects. Since the launch of DubaiSat-1, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has gone on to launch the DubaiSat-2 , KhalifaSat, one of the world’s most technologically advanced remote-sensing observation satellites designed and manufactured 100% in the UAE, and Naif-1, the first Emirati nano-satellite. These successive achievements have extended years of work and experience in satellite manufacturing.  This vast experience culminated in the successful development and launch of the Emirates Mars Mission “Hope Probe”, the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission.


Today, with the next generation of Earth observation satellites in orbit – MBRSC is continuously improving our Earth observation and prediction with state-of-the-art data and imagery. The pioneering effort of the DubaiSat-1 has significantly enhanced our understanding of the Earth and inspired the next generation of space scientists in the UAE.

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