Space Means Business Workshop Kicks off Private Space Sector Growth Campaign

26 June 2023

Through the roof’ attendance at inaugural event confirms widespread interest in commercial space opportunities

The Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt (EMA), the first multiple-asteroid tour and landing mission to the main belt, means business opportunities for UAE-based companies. That’s the message delivered during two workshops held at the UAE Space Agency’s Dubai office– with over double the number of expected attendees forcing the move to two sessions.

“Attendance was through the roof. We had planned for 50-60 attendees and on the day, we got to share the opportunities of our growing private space sector with over 160 representatives of existing companies and start-ups alike,” said EMA project director Mohsen Al Awadhi. “Many of those present had concrete plans in place for business development opportunities that map directly to the opportunities we are interested in creating, not only for EMA but for the UAE’s private space sector as a whole.”

More Space Means Business events are now planned at the local, regional and international levels as the Space Agency embarks on a global recruitment drive for new business and talent to invest in the Emirates. The campaign aims to help business identify the immediate commercial opportunities offered by the EMA mission but also to share a roadmap for the ongoing support and development of research, innovation and valuable heritage to offer participants in the fast-growing global space market.

EMA alone will drive significant economic opportunities, including new start-ups, international partnerships and inward investment to the UAE space sector, creating new commercial opportunities to accelerate the growth of innovation and advanced technology companies in the Emirates. The Space Means Business campaign will build outreach to academia, potential start-ups, existing global space sector players and companies with the potential to pivot existing R&D and operations to meet the needs of the space sector.

The UAE National Space Strategy supports the provision of start-up and investment funds, providing spacecraft assembly integration and test (AIT) facilities as a service and mission operations as a service to support and encourage start-ups and innovation. Additionally, the UAE Space Agency is offering Emirati space start-ups business formation support, zero barrier to entry office and back-office facilities as well as ongoing mentoring and funding as part of its Space Economic Zones initiative.

The development of EMA is supported by Space Academy, a UAE Space Agency led apprenticeship program for the UAE's space sector that expedites the development of engineering, technical and innovation expertise across a number of national institutions.

EMA comprises a thirteen-year mission: a six-year spacecraft development period followed by a seven-year flight to the main asteroid belt beyond Mars, performing a series of close flybys to make unique observations of seven main belt asteroids, including a rendezvous with the puzzling spectrally red asteroid, (269) Justitia. The mission builds on the learnings, capabilities, innovations and heritage of the Emirates Mars Mission and aims to further accelerate the development of the Emirates’ private space sector and national capabilities in advanced technology innovation.

The Mission’s spacecraft is named the MBR Explorer, in recognition of the foundational role driving the creation and growth of the UAE Space Program played by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.