Saudi Arabia has achieved a remarkable feat in the field of space technology by launching its first locally made satellite, “Shaheen Sat”, on Monday. The satellite, which was designed and manufactured by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Russian Soyuz rocket.
Shaheen Sat is one of the two satellites that were made in Saudi Arabia and launched on Monday. The other one is SGS-1, a communications satellite that was launched from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana on an Ariane 5 rocket. Shaheen Sat, which means “falcon” in Arabic, is a small satellite that weighs about 21 kilograms and has a lifespan of five years. It will be used for photography and maritime tracking purposes, as well as for scientific research and environmental monitoring.
Shaheen Sat is the 17th satellite that KACST has launched since 2000, and the first one that was entirely developed and built by Saudi engineers and scientists. It is also the first satellite that was made in collaboration with the Saudi Space Commission (SSC), which was established in 2018 to oversee and regulate the Kingdom’s space activities. The SSC aims to make Saudi Arabia a regional and global leader in space exploration and innovation, and to contribute to the Vision 2030 goals of economic diversification and social development.
Saudi Arabia joins the global space race
The launch of Shaheen Sat and SGS-1 is a testament to Saudi Arabia’s growing capabilities and ambitions in the space sector. The Kingdom has been investing heavily in space technology and education, as well as in international partnerships and cooperation. In 2019, Saudi Arabia became the first Arab country to send an astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS), where he conducted several scientific experiments. In 2020, Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum of understanding with NASA to collaborate on lunar and planetary exploration, as well as on human spaceflight. In 2021, Saudi Arabia announced its plans to launch 16 more satellites by 2025, and to establish a national space academy to train and inspire the next generation of space professionals.
Saudi Arabia’s achievements in space are not only a source of pride and prestige for the nation, but also a catalyst for economic growth and social progress. According to a report by the Saudi Space Commission, the space sector is expected to create more than 100,000 jobs and contribute more than 200 billion riyals ($53 billion) to the Kingdom’s GDP by 2030. The space sector is also expected to foster innovation and creativity, enhance national security and defense, and support environmental and humanitarian causes.
Saudi Arabia’s first locally made satellite, Shaheen Sat, is a symbol of the Kingdom’s vision and determination to reach new heights and explore new frontiers. It is also a sign of the Kingdom’s commitment to share its knowledge and experience with the world, and to participate in the global efforts to advance humanity’s understanding and utilization of space.