Space Diplomacy: UNOOSA and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre announce payload program awardees

PeopleOther ♦ Published: September 21, 2022; 17:47 ♦ (Vindobona)

A joint initiative, the Payload Hosting Initiative (PHI), is a cooperation program under the Access to Space for All Initiative between the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). PHI-1, which the first transport is called, will carry two payloads from the National Space Science Agency of the Kingdom of Bahrain (NSSA) and the Antarikchya Pratisthan Nepal University.

Through the PHI programme, UNOOSA and MBRSC provide the possibility to host payloads on a satellite platform developed by the Bin Rashid Space Centre. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Rrinsindika, CC BY-SA 3.0

UNOOSA and MBRSC provide payload hosting on Bin Rashid Space Centre's satellite platform through the PHI program. Developing countries have a significant opportunity to demonstrate new technologies and build capacity through the program. It promotes capacity-building and space science and technology in developing countries.

For Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director General of MBRSC, this cooperation made "tremendous progress" since the initial announcement of the PHI Programme. The PHI-1 mission will seek to provide more such opportunities for all entities that possess valuable scientific innovations to test them in space, according to AlMarri. AlMaari said this initiative "truly demonstrates how, with everyone's efforts and participation, we can advance in space exploration."

UNOOSA Acting Director Niklas Hedman praised the Access to Space for All initiative as "ground-breaking for the twenty-first-century capacity-building in space science and technology." Hedman is grateful for the support of UNOOSA's partners, thanks to which a "real difference for teams and institutions all around the world" is made. Hedman said he is already looking forward to seeing "the results of the PHI program boosting the space sector in Bahrain and Nepal.”

MBRSC will provide a spacecraft platform, launch and ground station for PHI-1 mission, carrying the payload from Bahrain and Nepal. UNOOSA and MBRSC will continue to provide such opportunities for hosting payloads on future PHI missions.

Payloads from Bahrain and Nepal

The two payloads to be on board the PHI-1 mission are from the National Space Science Agency of the Kingdom of Bahrain (NSSA) and the Antarikchya Pratisthan Nepal University.

Developed by a Bahraini team, the "AMAN" payload will test an optimized Advanced Encryption Standard, which will ensure secure communication between satellite and ground station.

Mohamed Al-Aseeri, Chief Executive Officer of NSSA, expressed gratitude and honor at the "Aman" project being selected by UNOOSA and MBRSC in the first round of the PHI initiative. Aman is considered the first Bahraini payload fully designed, integrated, and tested by NSSA. For Al-Aseeri this opportunity is unprecedented in Bahrain's "quest to contribute meaningfully to the global effort towards sustainable, peaceful use of outer space and building national capacity in the space field."

With a focus on the system's behavior and operation, the "Danfe Space Mission" of Nepal will study PX4 Autopilot, a middleware for drones in space. Teams from both countries will gain practical experience, knowledge, and skills in space technology from the payloads.

Abhas Maskey, the Founder of Antarikchya Pratisthan Nepal expressed his wish for Nepal to progress "as a spacefaring nation" and the need for Nepal to take every opportunity available to develop self-reliance, perform and build capacity for space. Maskesy strongly believes that Nepal's involvement in PHI-1 will be a small step toward future potential collaboration, especially to launch someday Nepal's first astronaut in space by 2050. Maskey said, "Space is the new limit, even for Nepal."

Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, known as "MBRSC" as an abbreviation, is a government agency of the Emirate of Dubai that handles a large part of the UAE's space program, including the UAE's astronaut program and the al-Amal Mars mission. The space center is based in Dubai's al-Khwaneej 1 district, and its director general since January 20, 2022, is Salem Humaid al-Marri.

The Centre builds and operates satellites that provide satellite imagery and data analysis services to clients around the world. The satellites were developed by a team of Emirati engineers in the UAE. The Centre also launched the Emirates Mars Mission Hope Probe, which is the first Arab interplanetary mission to reach the Martian orbit on February 9, 2021.


Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

National Space Science Agency of the Kingdom of Bahrain

Antarikchya Pratisthan Nepal