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Saudi Arabia seizes stake in remote sensing market

Dr Turki Bin Saud Taqnia Chairman and KACST President. Courtesy of Taqnia
Dr Turki Bin Saud Taqnia Chairman and KACST President. Courtesy of Taqnia

Taqnia, a Saudi firm dedicated to accelerating technology development for Saudi Arabia, in partnership with the King Abdullah City for Science and Technology (KACST), has signed an agreement with DigitalGlobe, a North American-based global provider of commercial highresolution Earth imagery products and services.

This joint venture, announced on February 21, will produce a fleet of small optical Earth observation satellites to be used for orbital Earth imaging. It will also give Saudi Arabia a stake in the expanding market for remote sensing technology and products.

“Partnering with the premier commercial satellite imaging firm will help to propel the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to become a leader in remote sensing and satellite technology,” said Dr Turki Bin Saud, Taqnia Chairman and KACST President.

A joint statement on the agreement said that state-backed KACST would build, integrate and launch six or more small satellites able to collect imagery with a resolution of 80cm. Such capabilities would complement the 30cm high-resolution imagery offered by DigitalGlobe’s four existing satellites, which will be joined by another with the launch scheduled for mid-2016 of its next-generation Worldview-4 satellite.

KACST will own 50% of the imaging capacity within Saudi Arabia and the surrounding region, while DigitalGlobe will have the remaining  50%, and 100% of the capacity outside the Middle East region, according to the joint statement.

The fleet of small satellites, due to be launched in late 2018 or early 2019, will complement the next-generation satellites DigitalGlobe is developing to replace its Worldview-1 and Worldview-2 satellites, by the end of 2020.


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