The UAE and Japan take first steps in space collaboration
The United Arab Emirates, represented by the UAE Space Agency and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, has signed an 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 Kanji Fujiki, Ambassador of Japan to the UAE, in the presence of Dr. Khalifa Al Romaithi, chairman of the UAE Space Agency, and Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, chairman of the board of directors at Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).
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 to launch the Hope Probe to explore Mars. The probe will be launched aboard H-IIA rocket in 2020. The contract was signed by Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, and Hisakazu Mizutani, executive vice president at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
UAE and Japan confirmed their intentions to promote a broad range of cooperation in space sector on the basis of mutual benefit and reciprocity.
Khalifa Al Romaithi 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."
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 programmes."
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.
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
Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, chairman of the board of directors MBRSC 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.”
He 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.”