The UAE And Japan Take First Steps In Space Collaboration

22 May 2016

The United Arab Emirates, represented by the UAE Space Agency and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, signed today a Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) and a contract with Japanese institutions, to launch the “Hope Probe” to outer space, and strengthen cooperation in the field of exploration and development of human resources specialised in space science and technology.

The signing took place in a ceremony held at the St. Regis Hotel Abu Dhabi Corniche, attended by His Excellency Kanji Fujiki, Ambassador of Japan to the UAE, in the presence of HE Dr. Khalifa Al Romaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, and HE Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).

The ceremony was attended by HE Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, H.E. Yousuf Al Shaibani, Director General of MBRSC, Khaled Al Hashmi, Director of Space Mission Management, Sheikha Al Maskari, Chief Innovation Officer at the UAE Space Agency, Engineer Salem Humaid Al Marri, Assistant General Manager for Scientific and Technical Affairs at MBRSC and a number of senior officials from the UAE space sector.

The Japanese delegation included representatives of the Office of National Space Policy of Cabinet Office, the University of Tokyo, the Japanese Embassy in the UAE, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

During the ceremony, the UAE Space Agency signed a MoU with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which covers various aspects of cooperation in space exploration and the peaceful exploitation of outer space, the development of scientific and experiential satellites, remote sensing, communications and cooperation in the exchange of information, research and scientific studies and data, as well as holding mutual lectures and research conferences.

The MoU was signed by Dr. Khalifa Al Romaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency from the UAE side, and Dr. Naoki Okumura, President of JAXA, from the Japanese side.

MBRSC signed a contract with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) to launch the Hope Probe to explore Mars. The probe will be launched aboard H-IIA rocket in 2020.  The contract was signed by HE Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, and Hisakazu Mizutani, Executive Vice President at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

UAE and Japan confirmed their intentions to promote a broad range of cooperation in space sector on the basis of mutual benefit and reciprocity

Strategic targets

Commenting on the signing of the MoU, Dr. Khalifa Al Romaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said: "Today's signing comes within the context of the strategic targets of the UAE Space Agency, in terms of building and developing mutually beneficial partnerships with various international institutions that carry long experience in the space sector in general, and the development of human resources in this field in particular.

He added: "Japan has a long history of space science and technology and has accumulated abundant knowledge and experience, an experience that the UAE is interested in exploiting in what offers benefits to the local space sector, and enhances economic diversity in the country." 

Capacity Development

For his part, His Excellency Kanji Fujiki, Ambassador of Japan to the UAE, said: "Japan and the UAE share the same recognition that space development and utilisation could be a strong and effective driving force for fostering science-spirits in young generations, for nurturing new innovative future industries and for strengthening national security capability."

Fujiki added: "Japan has a long history of space science and technology and has accumulated abundant knowledge and experience, both positive and negative, and is pleased to share them with the UAE for our mutual benefits. I am confident that the MoU signed today will serve as a cornerstone for more intensive cooperation in the field of space, which will certainly offer tremendous benefits for our ambitious space programs."

Essential expertise

For his part, HE Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, said: "Since the announcement of the UAE's plan to join the space club, and the launch of the Hope Probe project to explore Mars, the Agency has sought to develop its relations with the various relevant institutions in the space sector, in order to avail all necessary expertise to guarantee the success of this ambitious project. During our meetings with our Japanese counterparts, we discussed opportunities for joint cooperation on various levels, mainly in the field of developing our local capacity and scientific qualifications, which lead us to today's signing."

HE Al Ahbabi noted that the Hope Probe Project, which is the first of the Agency projects, will contribute to consolidating the country's position within the ranks of developed countries with ambitious space programmes, which makes the experience sharing with Japan an essential step that would leave a positive impact on the programme.

Deep relations

Dr. Naoki Okumura, President of JAXA, has appreciated cooperation between JAXA and UAE since 2009, including JAXA's microwave discharge neutralizer on board the UAE satellite launched in 2013. Okumura also noted that "the MoUs signed today would strengthen the cooperation with UAESA for mutual enhancement of space activities by utilising Japanese technologies and experiences we have accumulated for a long time."

An ambitious project

HE Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman of the Board of Directors MBRSC, thanked the joint work team, composed of the UAE Space Agency and MBRSC, who are collaborating on the UAE Mars Mission. He added: "The stage reached by this ambitious Arab project is an achievement that reflects the efforts of both sides and their relentless work in reaching the goals the project aspires to achieve.”

Al Mansoori also commended Japan's experience in outer space exploration, pointing to “the strong relationships between the UAE and Japan in the space industry." He added: "There has been cooperation and agreements in different areas related to other space projects, including collaboration with JAXA in our DubaiSat-2 project, in addition to assigning MHI the task of launching the third UAE satellite, KhalifaSat, the first Arab satellite which is being built purely by Emirati engineering and expertise in the UAE.”

Al Mansoori expressed his confidence in choosing Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. to be the company responsible for the Hope Probe launch. He said: “The selection came as a result of an in-depth and detailed study in accordance with the probe designs and the rocket specifications, along with the company's experience in this area." Al Mansoori reaffirmed that "selecting the launch company and the rocket is a crucial and sensitive decision in space projects, especially for a project of such great importance as the Emirates Mars Mission. This project is one of the major steps in the UAE strategy in the space sector, as it represents a solid foundation for the establishment of a new industry, which has a vital role in the development of the economies of countries."

Al Mansoori added: “We are confident that the UAE will have a significant presence in space technologies worldwide by 2020. Through wise leadership’s vision, building a new generation of engineers, scientists and experts, as well as creating world-class infrastructure will contribute in making the UAE one of the few countries that possess developed space technology that serves humanity and enriches the human knowledge.”

Al Mansoori concluded his speech by thanking UAE Space Agency and the great support of its Board of Directors in the implementation of the “Emirates Mars Mission”. He also highlighted its supervisory role in the project and follow up the work. Furthermore, Al Mansoori praised the Agency’s efforts in building constructive partnerships that contribute to the development of the space industry and research in the UAE."