Muscat: The Sultanate of Oman’s first satellite is to be launched into Earth’s lower orbit by the end of 2022, with the aim of putting the country on the map of global space research and exploration.
The satellite, called CubeSat, is the product of collaboration between three companies: Omani companies TUATARA and ETCO, and Poland’s SatRevolution, which are working with Oman’s Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MTCIT).
The agreement between the organisations was signed at the International Astronautical Congress, which was held from 25 to 29 October in Dubai, in the presence of Dr. Saoud Al Shoaili, head of the National Space Programme within Oman’s MTCIT, and President Grzegorz Worchna of the Polish Space Agency.
“By cooperating with SatRevolution, a satellite manufacturer and space service company considered to be one of the top providers of satellite imaging services in the world, we have secured a valuable partner with great access to the latest space technology and image analysis which will support the national digitalisation strategy,” said Ammar Al Rawahi, director of astro and space technology at ETCO.
Besides the launch of the satellite itself, a five-year collaboration between the involved parties will include designing and manufacturing a complete satellite imaging receiving and transmission infrastructure based on CubeSat technology.
The project will be executed in stages comprising several crucial elements the design, manufacture and development of software, enabling ETCO (International Emerging Technology Company) to operate Oman’s first national CubeSat: these include the creation of the ground station by TUATARA and SatRevolution, providing connection, operations and datalink with launched CubeSat; and personnel training and know-how transfer, including NASA’s best practices needed to execute all strategic goals.
SatRevolution has partnered with Virgin Orbit and SpaceX to deliver its satellites into space, and the company’s CEO Grzegorz Zwolinski said he was happy to help with Oman’s digital transformation. “We want the technological achievements resulting from our work to be applied in various fields,” he said. “Participation in this venture and the opportunity to cooperate with new players to create innovative solutions is another step in the process of democratisation of the space market.”
While satellites can be an important part of the global imaging supply chain, the project will be technologically independent, collecting and processing data that will serve the technological development of the Sultanate of Oman and contribute to the country’s economic growth.
Satellite images can be used to monitor agriculture, renewable energy, oil, mining, weather forecasting, border monitoring and national security within the Sultanate.
Downstream analysis of images and data acquired from satellites using computer vision, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology will enable recognition of patterns and trends, enabling the prediction of the impact of climate change or natural disasters, among other phenomena.
Krzysztof Goworek, chief innovation officer at TUATARA, stressed, “We have a wide portfolio of products and solutions based on these technologies and a team of experts with interdisciplinary knowledge. Our experience, combined with SatRevolution’s expertise, will contribute to the comprehensive interpretation of data from CubeSat technology and the commercialisation of satellite solutions in the region.”
The launch of Oman’s first satellite will provide opportunities for talented engineering students, university researchers and the founders of new companies to acquire knowledge, gain hands-on experience and a comparative advantage to accelerate the space industry in the country.