Emirates flies first UAE built satellite to Seoul for space mission

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Emirates SkyCargo has transported the first satellite developed and built by Emirati engineers in the UAE to Seoul on its first journey into space.

The KhalifaSat was developed and built at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and the remote sensing satellite will provide images of the earth for practical applications in a variety of industries.

It was flown from Dubai to Incheon International Airport in South Korea on a Boeing 777 Freighter that was specially chartered for the occasion, and Emirates SkyCargo also unveiled a special branded truck to mark the event.

Emirates divisional senior vice president for cargo, Nabil Sultan says: “Over the years Emirates SkyCargo has transported a wide variety of unusual cargo but being able to transport the first satellite manufactured in the UAE is a unique honour. We are delighted to bring our expertise in air transportation to the table on this historic and momentous occasion.”

The KhalifaSat project was launched in 2013 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, with the aim of manufacturing the first space satellite on UAE soil.

MBRSC assistant director general for scientific and technical affairs, Salem Al Marri says: “It has been a journey of nearly five years from the time the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre commenced the manufacture of KhalifaSat to now where we’re getting ready for the final launch.

“We needed a partner who had the capability and expertise to transport KhalifaSat from Dubai without compromising its sensitive instrumentation and components. Emirates SkyCargo worked with us over a three month period to make sure that the entire transportation process went smoothly.”

The Emirates SkyCargo and MBRSC teams worked together from November 2017 to prepare and plan all steps of the movement of the satellite, which was first moved from the latter’s manufacturing facility in Dubai to the Emirates SkyCentral DWC freighter cargo terminal at Dubai World Central on a dedicated remotely monitored truck travelling on a geo-fenced route with a police escort.

A number of trial loading exercises were conducted to ensure that operations went smoothly during the actual transportation of the satellite.