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Khaleejtimes

UAE to ‘come back stronger’ with backup satellite

On July 11, the European Vega rocket, which was to carry Falcon Eye 1 into space, experienced a “technical glitch”.

The UAE will “come back stronger” with its Falcon Eye 2 satellite after the initial one was destroyed due to a rocket launch failure, a UAE space official has said.

On July 11, the European Vega rocket, which was to carry Falcon Eye 1 into space, experienced a “technical glitch” just two minutes after liftoff.

The Director-General of the UAE Space Agency, Dr Mohammed AlAhbabi, tweeted on Saturday: “The loss of the UAE (Falcon Eye 1) satellite due to (Vega) rocket failure reminds us that space is hard and challenging, but this is why the UAE has (an) ambitious space programme. We will come back very soon with (Falcon Eye 2) stronger than ever before.”

The UAE’s space programme is characterised by “maturity, proper planning and effective management”, he said.

“The system of the Falcon Eye includes two satellites (Falcon Eye 1 and Falcon Eye 2). The aim of the second one is to be an alternative to the first, in case there is a defect or a loss. Space has challenges and risks.”

He said in another tweet that the space agency plans on launching Falcon Eye 2 by the end of this year. However, it is not yet clear which commercial services they will be using this time to send it off to orbit.

Vega has had 14 successful flights previously and this was its first failure. The European Space Agency and the firm that owns the rocket, Arianespace, has already launched an investigation.

Despite efforts to reconfigure the launcher from the ground, Arianespace later confirmed it had suffered a “major anomaly” and apologised to the UAE for the loss of its payload.

Falcon Eye 1 was a dual-use satellite for military and civilian applications. It was developed for the UAE Armed Forces and took four years to build.

sarwat@khaleejtimes.com

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