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UAE’s MBRSC to launch its Project Space Forum on 24 January

Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Credits: Jeffrey E. Biteng, The National.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of MBRSC and general supervisor of all projects of the Centre and its strategic and development plans, MBRSC is launching the first edition of “Project Space” Forum on the 24 and 25 January 2017 at Dubai World Trade Centre. As the first of its kind to be held in the region, the event aims to create a platform for young generation interested in science, exploration and innovation in the UAE to help them benefit from the knowledge and experiences of space scientists and experts. These inspirational figures will come from around the world to the UAE to share their discoveries and hopes for an industry that will surely define the future of humanity.

The Forum is to be held under the gracious auspices of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, which was highly appreciated by His Excellency Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General of MBRSC, who affirmed that the MBRSC team is committed to His Highness’ direction to draw up an ambitious road map for building the capacities of the future generations of Emirati scientists and researchers. This road map will serve as an inspiration for the team and the foundation upon which it will develop educational and raising-awareness initiatives. “The space sector is of strategic importance in terms of shaping the future of science and technology in the UAE and building a knowledge-based, competitive and innovation-focused strong economy,” said Al Shaibani.

He stressed the importance of holding inspiring events, such as Project Space, for the Emirati youth, to serve as science platforms that ensure a promising future for space science and exploration in the UAE. He also emphasized the need to find new ways for human capacities to learn about the most recent developments and experiences of scientists and researchers in order to make a quantum leap in terms of knowledge and space technology.

Commenting on Project Space, Mona Al Qemzi, Assistant Director General, Corporate Support Sector at MBRSC, said: “We wanted Project Space to be a distinguished platform for UAE students to deepen their knowledge in science and space. This can be accomplished by providing them with an accurate and realistic portrait based on the experiences of the most influential scientists in the world who have extensive experience in the fields of outer space exploration, planetary science and the innovation of space technology, and on the experiences of national cadres with distinctive achievements in the UAE space sector.”

“We are absolutely sure that when our youth learn about the experiences of and communicate with leading scientists, they will be inspired and encouraged to embark upon a career path in science, space or engineering, which will help meet the increasing needs of human resources in the space sector,” Al Qemzi added.

Following the opening session on Day One, the event will begin with a panel discussion on the Knowledge Transfer Concept. The MBRSC team members Eng. Salem Al Marri, Assistant Director General for Scientific and Technical Affairs, Eng. Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of EMM, Eng. Amer Al Sayegh, Senior Director, Space Engineering Department and KhalifaSat Project Manager, Mohammed Al Harmi, Director of the Corporate Development Department, as well as the Korean Partner Satrec Initiative CEO Dr. Byungjin Kim, will share their experiences in this regard.

Later on, Dr Noureddine Melikechi, Dean, Kennedy College of Sciences University of Massachusetts at Lowell, member of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission and member of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission and member of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will be giving a lecture entitled “Looking for Life on Mars and Searching for Cancers on Earth, One Laser Pulse at a Time”. Melikechi is the only Arab scientist participating in the NASA Curiosity rover mission currently exploring the Red Planet. He is a member of the Chemistry Camera (ChemCam) team of the mission. His team is also working on developing a new instrument to be part of NASA’s planned Mars 2020 mission. Furthermore, Melikechi’s also developed laser technology that can be used for the early detection of cancer in humans.

Also on day one, Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, will be shedding light on the space sector in the UAE, as well as the strategy put in place to build the capacities of the future generations of Emirati scientists and experts. Also speaking at the Project Space event is Abby Harrison, who is widely known as Astronaut Abby. Aspiring to become a member of the first human crew to land on Mars, Harrison founded “The Mars Generation”, which is a nonprofit organisation that offers programmes to excite and educate students and adults about the importance of human space exploration and STEM education.

Dr Mike Brown, Professor of Planetary Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology will also participate in day one by giving a lecture entitled “How I Killed Pluto and Why it Had it Coming”… Dr Brown is best known for his discovery of the dwarf planet Eris in the Solar System, which led to the eventual demotion of Pluto from a real planet to a dwarf planet. He is now working on finding a 9th planet to replace Pluto.

Day two will begin with the “Hope” documentary film featuring the scientific goals, the journey and some of the national points of view. The movie will be followed by a talk session where Omran Sharaf, EMM Project Manager at MBRSC will be answering the question ‘How Could the UAE Get to Mars?’ Afterwards, the event will shed some light on the achievements of women in space, on both local and global levels in a panel discussion entitled Women in Space.

Participants of the discussion are Dr. Cathy Swan, SouthWest Analytic Network, Ribbon Rider Member, International Space Elevator Consortium, Master Docent, Phoenix Art Museum; Bakhita Al Mheiri, a pilot for Emirates Airline; Dr Sara Al Maeeni, MBRSC expert in space communications and research on the EMM – Hope Probe; and Abigail Harrison.

In another session entitled ‘Take the Elevator to Space’, Dr Peter Swan, President of the Space Elevator Consortium, who has more than 40 years of experience in space systems engineering, will be presenting on the unique Space Elevator concept. Swan will be highlighting the advantages the Space Elevator project will bring for all humanity, taking people and goods into Earth orbit.

Among other space personalities speaking at the Project Space is the legendary Dr Carolyn Porco, Planetary Scientist and Head of Cassini Imaging Team. Dr Porco is coming to share her stories and achievements, particularly the Cassini mission launched to Saturn. She is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of the 21st Century, and has been named as one of Time Magazine’s ‘25 Most Influential People in Space’, and Wired magazine’s ‘15 People the Next President Should Listen to’.

MBRSC will also organize a number of specialized workshops on space exploration, science and technology, in addition to a meet and greet with the speakers of the event. The workshops will also include meetings with MBRSC’s team, in which they will be giving information about the initiatives of attracting national competencies, work environment and qualifications needed to work at the Centre.

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