Dubai: Yamama Badwan
A young team of male and female engineers, with an average age of 27, is working with perfect accuracy and without feeling tired, according to the schedule set for the Mohammed bin Zayed “MBZ-SAT” satellite project in the clean rooms at the Space Center Mohammed bin Rashid in the Al Khawaneej area of Dubai. 120 minutes, which “Al Khaleej” spent, interviewing some of the project engineers, for its latest developments, especially since it is the second Emirates satellite built and fully developed by a team of Emirati engineers, after the satellite “KhalifaSat”, in addition. to tests performed on it, to ensure its electrical and mechanical systems, in preparation for its launch in the third quarter of next year, the challenges the team faces when designing the camera for the moon, being the largest and more precisely, as that size is equal to the size of the entire “Khalifa Sat”.
Engineer Amer Al Ghafri, Director of the Aerospace Engineering Department and Director of the Mohammed bin Zayed “MBZ-SAT” Satellite Project at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center revealed that 50% of the second phase of the moon project is complete, which includes testing of electrical and mechanical systems in the model.The qualification is exactly the same as in the final model.
He said the project went through three phases, the first of which was the design phase and testing of the experimental model, while work was underway on the second phase, where the team went through the middle of the road and the third phase involves construction. the final model, which will be released at the end of 2023.
He added that earlier, the final project review phase of the project had been completed and the development of the current lunar systems had been completed, as the working team had completed a large percentage of the various systems in the project. such as electrical and mechanical systems, control systems and the main camera on the moon, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The current satellite will be installed with the rest of the other systems, to form the final satellite. “MBZ-SAT”.
He stressed that the project is a qualitative step in the field of space industry in the country, as the working team has completed the production of many of the project systems, which will be assembled during the next period and qualifying tests for the final moon. , including tests of the moon ‘s ability to withstand launch factors and rocket launchers, and the ability to withstand the environment Space, whether radiation or high and low temperatures outside, where the tests will be performed in cooperation with international partners due to the presence of specialized laboratories abroad at the present time, followed by the final moon calibration and examination phase with ground systems and the preparation of a network of ground stations scattered around the world for control and receive images and data sent from the moon, to provide them to users at home and abroad in a faster and more efficient way, automating all phases and operations at the ground station located in the Al Khawaneej area in Dubai.
As for tests and calibrations with ground stations around the world, he said they will be completed in the third quarter of next year, so that the moon is ready to launch in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Al-Ghafry continued: Some satellite launch missions are new and performed according to international standards, but differ according to each mission, and therefore the MBZ-SAT mission is different from previous missions and must develop new systems in the project . , as we discussed in our discussion with a number of users at home and abroad, and saw the need to increase the clarity of satellite images, as the satellite “KhalifaSat” currently offers images with a resolution of 70 cm, but we aimed to develop the accuracy of images that will to be captured by the new project to achieve better than 50 cm, i.e. double the accuracy of “KhalifaSat” images.
Accuracy and clarity
Al-Ghafri confirmed that the size of the MBZ-SAT camera is the size of the full moon “KhalifaSat”, which made it one of the challenges faced by the work team in developing such a large size, with the calibrations of necessary to ensure the accuracy and clarity of the images.
He stressed that work is being done to develop the ground station, so that all operations on it are automated, which means that there is no need for intervention of many human elements, in addition to the availability of service 24 hours a day. which facilitates the demand for satellite images and their access to users automatically and quickly, through the Existence of a network of terrestrial stations worldwide.
Al-Ghafri pointed out that some systems on the moon, while in space, can be reprogrammed remotely, but the range of control over them is not similar to the presence of the moon on Earth, and therefore the large number of tests that we are currently. performance, to ensure that these systems do not fail in the outdoor space environment.
Al-Ghafry explained that the development and production of the project flight model started immediately after the completion of the final design meeting in October last year 2021, where it was confirmed that all the designs are sound, and consequently directly in the production of the final . satellite, as well as we signed a partnership with the company «Estrada» for the production of the mechanical model of the moon, and are following up with them in this regard, as well as the production of electrical and electronic systems with our partners.
He said that more than 90% of mechanical systems are produced locally through our domestic partners, and in terms of electrical systems and electronic panels, we are working with them at this stage to increase the percentage to 50%, as satellite, like any project, should focus on schedule, and from this, we seek to ensure that our local partners are able to deliver production operations in a timely manner, and it is noted that there are new companies expressing their desire to participated in the project and we have started talking to them to increase the share of domestic production and seek to cooperate with local institutions working in the field of space, such as space laboratories. production operations there, as well as discussions with local companies responsible for obtaining spatial data, which will be announced soon.
On the possibility of accelerating work on the project plan, Al-Ghafri stressed that despite the team’s extensive experience working on several previous projects, they are committed to satellite scheduling because there are other projects at the center that engineers are working on. at the same time, as the explorer “Rashid” and the moon “Fay”.
Regarding the launch window of the project, Al-Ghafry explained that the American company “SpaceX” was chosen to be a partner in the launch of the space satellite, as it owns two stations in Florida and California and the launch window. for the satellite is set from 3-6 months, starting from the first date of October 2023, however, to determine the exact launch date requires coordination with “SpaceX” to discuss the readiness of the moon and to choose the most appropriate time .
On the other hand, Hessa Ali, Senior Engineer in Engineering Project Management and Deputy Project Manager for MBZ-SAT, explained that the number of the satellite team is about 200 engineers, with an average age of 27, including 70 Engineers in Development of the Moon. Department, and 35 engineers in the Department of Operations and Data Processing, as well as 10 researchers and 40 specialists and administrators in the department of current data utilization.
She said the satellite was designed to operate in space between 5-8 years, but is expected to continue in service for more than 8 years, and the team’s experience has been gained working on long-term projects, starting with DubaiSat- 1 and ending. with KhalifaSat and Hope Probe Some of them have up to 15 years of experience in this field, which contributes to overcoming the difficulties the team may face.
She stated that working hours range from 8-12 hours, while it is expected that during the launch period within the tour system to work around the clock.
Regarding the advantages of the MBZ-SAT satellite, she said that the final approved design weighs more than 800 kilograms and will improve the capture accuracy of images by more than double the level offered by previous systems and increase the speed of bottom connection. data transmission at three times the current capacity The fully automated system for image planning and processing purposes will be able to send more than 10 times more images than the center currently produces.
It showed that the MBZ-SAT will be the first satellite to have the ability to monitor a large number of targets, whether natural or man-made, with a higher accuracy than satellites designated for monitoring purposes. Improved artificial intelligence, which also helps analyze and process space images faster.
Large capacity for national companies
Amer Al-Ghafri said that national companies have the ability to develop all mechanical systems within the country with 100%, and there are some technologies that will be rehabilitated through in-center rehabilitation programs in cooperation with local partners, but in general national companies are able to develop all systems used by satellites as needed for various space missions,
He said that national factories are able to use various raw materials and specialized systems such as carbon fiber, titanium, magnesium and others, as well as have advanced equipment to perform tests on mechanical systems, whether vibration or crack monitoring. within these systems.