The Sultanate of Oman’s newly unveiled National Space Policy targets, among other strategic goals, the establishment of a domestic industry that will support the assembly of satellites and space systems in-country.
An Executive Programme, an outline of which was shared recently by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MoTCIT), sets out a 10-year-long blueprint spanning the 2022 – 2033 timeframe for the development of national capabilities culminating in the delivery of these strategic objectives.
“The executive programme aims to support the Sultanate of Oman’s vision in the field of the space sector with its various sciences, technologies, applications and services. The positive results of the sector for the country within 10 years will be determined through partnership in implementing various projects and initiatives,” said the ministry in a backgrounder on the Space Policy and accompanying Executive Programme.
Eng Said bin Hamoud al Maawali (pictured), Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, added in a message: “This policy highlights Oman’s space vision, values and priorities. It lays the foundations and charts the path of our space sector for the years to come.”
“...the tremendous changes in the global space sector offer unique perspectives for our country to leverage capabilities, respond to our most critical national challenges and support our way towards a flourishing digital economy to fuel a sustainable knowledge-based economy,” the minister further stated.
Divided into three distinct phases, the executive programme kicks off with a focus on the development of space-related downstream activities centring on data and servies, before moving progressively upstream into the manufacture of space systems and related hardware.
Phase 1 of the programme, aptly titled ‘Ignition’, broadly aims to stimulate the growth of a national ecosystem of service providers that will spawn the development of space-based applications.
As many as nine initiatives are planned to be progressed during this roughly three-and-a-half-year-long phase – all of which also open up significant investment and partnership opportunities with local and international companies, according to the ministry.
Planned for launch in this phase are the following: End user applications booster programme; National Space Data Platform, Incubation Programme; Center of Excellence for space applications; Space Cloud Partnership, Ground stations hub, Direct Receiving Station, and National Cubesat Programme.
In the second phase, commencing around the 4-year mark, the programme shifts its focus to the development of the requisite infrastructure (both on the ground and in space) with the goal to unlock new business opportunities and expand Oman’s space sector capabilities. Two key initiatives planned for implementation during this stage, dubbed ‘Lift-Off’, centre around National Satellite Communications and a National Space Observatory.
The programme enters a critical phase in roughly the seventh year of its implementation, with investments planned in complex systems and capabilities.
This third phase, branded ‘Orbiting’, effectively prepare the ground for the next development cycle of the space sector. Also envisaged for rollout in this phase are three initiatives: Regional Satnav Augmentation System, Launch Site Partnership, and Satellite R&D programme.
Royal Decree 90/2020 enshrining the establishment of a new space sector for the country mandates the ministry to, among other objectives, propose policies and strategic plans related to technology and space sciences in a way that contributes to achieving the goals of the Oman development plans.
Also as part of its remit, the ministry has been tasked with establishing a National Space Programme, supporting initiatives to foster the adoption of space science and technology, and establishing the infrastructure to underpin the development and manufacture of space systems and satellites.