In a move that cements an already thriving space relationship, the United Arab Emirates Space Agency signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with the Government of Japan last week, setting the stage for strategic collaboration in space exploration and science between the two countries.
The UAE-Japanese MoC is the latest step in what is becoming an important relationship for the UAE Space Agency. Japanese space launch company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), is already contracted to launch KhalifaSat, a remote sensing satellite due to be launch in late 2017 or early 2018 and the Hope Mars Mission probe in 2020 on board its H-IIA launch vehicle.
Both KhalifaSat and the Hope Mars Mission probe are being built by Emirati engineers and scientists at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai.
The UAE-Japanese MoC promotes information and research and development exchanges, human skills and expertise capacity development, and the creation of space-related industries. Further, the MoC will facilitate educational exchanges between the two countries as well as mutual participation in space conferences and similar events.
The MoC was signed by H.E. Dr. Khalifa Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, with H.E. Dr. Tsutomu Tomioka, State Minister of Education, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT); H.E. Yosuke Takagi, State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI); and H.E. Yasuyuki Sakai, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Cabinet Office of Japan.
H.E. Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, and representatives from the Cabinet Office of Japan, MEXT, and METI, were also present at the signing.
MEXT is the Japanese government ministry that oversees the Japanese Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA), the direct counterpart to the UAE Space Agency.
After signing the MoC, Dr. Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said: “The UAE and Japan have a long-standing relationship across many fields from business to education. Furthermore, Japan has been a consistent and considerable supporter of our space efforts since the UAE Space Agency’s founding.”
“Our agreement with the Government of Japan falls within the strategic visions of both the Space Agency and the UAE. This includes working towards closer international cooperation, establishing mutually beneficial international partnerships and exchanging scientific knowledge with the rest of the world,” added Dr. Al Rumaithi.
Dr. Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, added that, “This MoC brings the UAE a step closer to its goal of launching the Hope Probe to Mars in 2020. We discussed with our Japanese counterparts the various ways we can ensure the challenging project is successful. We welcome the experience and insight our Japanese peers have to offer, especially given the participation of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in the launch of the first Arab probe to Mars.”
Dr. Tsutomu Tomioka, State Minister of MEXT, said: “The signing of MoC between two governments is a significant step for the further development of space exploration and utilization of both countries. We hope that our bilateral cooperation in this field will be more deepened on this occasion. Especially MEXT, which is responsible for research and development, and education policies, would like to proactively promote technical cooperation through JAXA, and human resource development through exchanges between universities of both countries.”
For METI, State Minister Yosuke Takagi, “The cooperation between Japan and the UAE in energy and wide variety of industrial sectors is essential for the economic development of both countries, which I have been deeply involved. Through this MoC, we would like to accelerate the space exploration and utilization as well as the development of space industry of both countries. METI will initiate several initiatives from this year, including a seminar to promote the exchanges of the space industry of Japan and the UAE, dispatch of experts, and invitation of engineers and students in UAE to Japan.”
Lastly, Yasuyuki Sakai, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Japanese Cabinet Office said, “The UAE is an important strategic partner of Japan in the space sector. It is a great honor for us that we contribute to the space exploration and utilization of the UAE through the launch of its Mars Probe. We would like to make a steady progress in each cooperative activity between Japan and the UAE through a close collaboration with relevant ministries, institutions, and private entities in Japan.”