SpaceOps 2023 kicks off in Dubai

The 17th edition of the International Space Operations Conference (SpaceOps 2023), one of the world’s most significant space events, began today at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The conference, organised by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and the International Committee on Technical Data Exchange for Space Operations and Ground Data Systems, is the first time the global event has been held in the Arab world. The conference will take place from 6 to 10 March.

SpaceOps 2023 has attracted more than 1,000 registered participants, 25 internationally renowned sponsors and exhibitors, professionals, delegates and space experts for a first-of-its-kind space event in the Middle East. The five-day event is supported by several sponsors from around the world, including platinum sponsor GMV, gold sponsor Yahsat, silver sponsors European Space Agency (ESA) and National Space Agency of South Africa (SANSA) as well as bronze sponsors Agenzia Spaziole Italiana (ASI), Centre National D’etudes Spatiales (CNES), Telespazio, SpaceNav and others.

Under the theme ‘Invest in space to serve Earth and beyond’, the international forum offers delegates a valuable opportunity to explore all aspects of space missions, including specialised areas such as robotics, manned, near-Earth and deep-space operations. The event provides insight into the latest technologies and capabilities in the space sector, demonstrating how advanced space technology can contribute to finding solutions for the future of humanity.

The event will feature a series of space-themed plenary sessions, informative lectures, in-depth technical sessions and interactive workshops. SpaceOps 2023 also provides a unique networking opportunity for the space industry through the Space Science Exhibition.

The UAE in general and MBRSC in particular have made significant investments in the space sector in recent years to develop a sustainable space economy and enhance the country’s scientific and technological capabilities. Dubai is hosting this premier event for the first time in the Arab world, which comes in close proximity to the launch of Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who completed a landmark six-month mission on the International Space Station (ISS). Al Neyadi, who has completed the UAE’s astronaut training programme at MBRSC, arrived at the ISS on March 3, becoming the second Emirati and second Arab to board the orbiting science laboratory. His flight, the longest among Arab astronauts, is expected to cement the UAE’s position as a leading space power in the Middle East.

The UAE has successfully launched several other space missions in recent years. In September 2019, the country’s first astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansouri flew for eight days to the ISS, generating worldwide attention. In February 2021, the UAE’s Hope probe successfully orbited Mars, becoming the Arab country’s first interplanetary mission. The design, development and operation of the mission is led by the MBRSC. The probe will study Mars’ atmosphere and weather conditions for two years. MBRSC has also launched numerous satellites, including DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2, used for remote sensing, and KhalifaSat, the first 100% Emirati-built satellite.

In the coming days, the forum will feature plenary sessions on various topics, including space traffic management – needs and solutions, lunar communications and international interoperability, and planetary defence, with speakers from global agencies such as NASA, ESA, SANSA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, as well as academic and research institutions and space technology organisations.

Sami W. Asmar, general secretary of the Space Data Systems Advisory Committee and its delegate from NASA, and liaison to the Interagency Operations Advisory Group, will be the keynote speaker at the conference, speaking on ‘Standards and Interoperability for Successful Space Missions’. The MBRSC team will also participate in a plenary session on “MBRSC Missions: From Earth to Mars passing by Moon”.

Prior to SpaceOps 2023, the SpaceOps committee, MBRSC and the Space Generation Advisory Council organised the Students and Young Professionals programme. The programme brought together young people from the UAE and around the world. It included student workshops, a discussion on women in SpaceOps, speed mentoring and a technical hour.

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