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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Racing to the space

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Corresponding with Oman Vision 2040, the Sultanate of Oman is emerging in the list of space-faring nations with its ambitious satellite launch endeavours.


With a milestone collaboration and framework agreement signed by five consortium members towards the end of last month in Muscat, the country is all set to create history with its first satellite launch and the first mission to deep space.


The agreement was signed by the Sultanate of Oman with US-based launch company Virgin Orbit; Polish Small Satellite manufacturer and operator SatRevolution; Poland-originated AI data analytics specialists TUATARA; and Omani-based emerging technology innovator ETCO for the country’s first mission to deep space.


The same agreement also lays the foundation for the consortium to collaborate on delivering additional small satellites to Low Earth Orbit, including the first in the Sultanate of Oman’s history.


Following the agreement, Poland’s SatRevolution will deliver and operate its proprietary nanosatellite technologies alongside partners Virgin Orbit, a leading US-based launch company and Omani-based emerging technology innovator ETCO.


As part of the historic mission, a SatRev CubeSat satellite aboard a Virgin Orbit rocket will conduct ground-breaking scientific research and capture imagery of deep space.


With plans to launch small satellites into Low Earth Orbit and foster a local, sustainable space ecosystem and industrial base, the Sultanate of Oman further plans on expanding its ambitious space endeavours and engaging the Omani public and students through STEM activities.


Both missions are in line with the Royal Directives and will be directly aligned with the Oman Vision 2040, being part of a broader educational outreach initiative with the goal of stimulating long-term growth in the sector.


The activities specified in the Agreements are intended to generate and seize opportunities to foster economic competitiveness and social well-being, stimulate growth and build confidence in economic, social and developmental relations nationwide.


“The satellite will travel to, for example, the Moon, Mars or Venus”, Grzegorz Zwolinski, SatRevolution CEO, was quoted as saying.


All collected data and images, both from the Low Earth Orbit and deep space missions, will be analysed digitally using computer vision, machine learning, and AI solutions in strategic partnership with ETCO.


The space projects will contribute to the near-term goals of the Sultanate of Oman, which include the modernisation of the educational ecosystem, support for scientific research and innovation, and the enhancement of in-country development of cutting-edge technologies.


It will be possible, for example, to detect hidden patterns, identify trends and predict changes caused, among others, by the climate or natural disasters.


Ultimately, the installation of satellites for the Sultanate of Oman in low orbit will consist of a dozen or so objects using technologies that ensure the possibility of 24-hour Earth observation.


According to Tariq al Balushi, ETCO Vice-President, “The future of the Sultanate of Oman is one of innovation, and it’s through these partnerships the country will make active contributions to those sectors and technologies that are driving progress on a global scale”.


“This partnership is a major step in helping us to enrich the Sultanate of Oman’s Space industry with the latest technologies and know-how while adding overall economic value according to Oman’s Vision 2040.”


Why so many satellites?


Zwolinski said that the Sultanate of Oman is currently a rapidly developing country that wants to invest in the latest space research and technologies. In addition, he added, Sultanate of Oman’s new economic strategy envisages that the data obtained from satellites will become another important source of the Sultanate of Oman’s revenues in the coming years, apart from energy resources.


“Data is the oil of the modern world’’, Zwolinski noted.


According to him, information obtained from satellites is a valuable commodity, including agricultural, insurance, logistics, mining and distribution sectors. “Satellite images allow, among others, to monitor the condition of sensitive infrastructure and quickly react, for example, to leaks from pipelines, predict agricultural yields and market prices, as well as disasters such as landslides or volcanic eruptions’’, he said.


@samkuttyvp


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