‘UAE’s space programme getting a lot of things right’
Abu Dhabi: Despite being a very young space organisation, the UAE’s Space Agency is ticking all the right boxes in its quest to become one of the world’s leading space agencies, according to Nasa’s former administrator who attended the group’s Advisory Committee meeting in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
“The UAE Space Agency is doing a lot of things right, they have set up both short- and long-term goals — including the Mars Hope mission in 2020 — and have formed a team of experts who know what they’re doing to get those tasks done,” said Charles Frank Bolden Jr, who headed Nasa from 2009 to 2017.
“I am cautiously optimistic that the UAE is going to succeed in sending its probe to Mars, which I believe is going to be very positive in terms of the new science we’re going to be able to learn.
“The middle atmosphere of Mars today is still not very well studied and that’s something the Hope mission can contribute to,” he added, commenting on the potential scientific knowledge to be gained by the UAE’s Hope mission.
Bolden was also very positive about the UAE’s diverse and young workforce involved with the country’s space programme which, he said, put it in an advantage compared to other space agencies.
“The diversity and involvement of women in the UAE’s space sector is a great thing. The numbers — which are at 40 per cent — are very enviable. Nasa would love to be able to say they have that kind of percentage of women working for them in technical fields,” he said.
“The workforce are also young, and I think that puts them at a great advantage if you compare it with the US which is faced with an ageing workforce. At Nasa, our average age is around 59 years old,” he added.
Jean-Jacques Dordain, another advisory member for the UAE’s Space Agency and the former director-general of the European Space Agency, was also positive about the accomplishments of the UAE’s space programme in a short period of time.
“The UAE Space Agency was created just four years ago, and so when you see where they are today, I think they have developed considerably and are present in a lot of space activities,” he said.
“This is a good thing because it creates momentum which, hopefully, will attract the new generation of engineers, and that is the best thing for the space sector’s development because you always need to attract and motivate the next generation to come and join,” he added.