A space initiative by the UAE and UN is helping to give access to space to nations that are trying to develop their own space programmes.
Bahrain and Nepal were recently selected to add their technologies into a satellite called PHI-1.
The modular satellite is part of the Payload Hosting initiative by the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa) and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.
Private companies will help build the satellite for the space centre, with technologies from Bahrain and Nepal to be added in. A launch date has not been given.
Unoosa acting director Niklas Hedman said that the programme is helping emerging space nations build capacities in space science and technology.
“I already look forward to seeing the results of the PHI programme boosting the space industry in Bahrain and Nepal,” he said.
Bahrain’s National Space Science Agency (NSSA) will develop the Aman payload, which will help secure communication between the satellite and ground station.
Nepal’s Antarikchya Pratisthan, a non-profit organisation, will build the ‘Danfe Space Mission’ – technology that will study operations of drones in space.
“Aman is considered the first Bahraini payload fully designed, integrated and tested by NSSA,” said Mohamed Al Aseeri, chief executive of Bahrain’s space agency.
“This opportunity is unprecedented in our quest to contribute meaningfully to the global effort towards sustainable, peaceful use of outer space and building national capacity in the space field.”
Bahrain has increased investment in space over the past few years and is a signatory of the US-led Artemis Accords, an international agreement that outlines peaceful space exploration.
The UAE and Bahrain have worked together on another satellite – the Light-1 Cubesat – which was launched last year to study charged particles above thunderstorms.
Bahrain and Nepal’s selection in the first round of the Payload Hosting Initiative will help the nations’ engineers to build skills and gain experience in space technologies.
Abhas Maskey, the founder of Antarikchya Pratisthan Nepal, said that their involvement will help the organisation move closer to Vision 2050 – a programme that aims to launch Nepal’s first astronaut in space by 2050.
“If Nepal is to progress as a spacefaring nation, the country has to take each and every opportunity available to develop self-reliance, perform research and development and build capacity for space,” he said.
Nepal launched its first satellite NepaliSat-1 in 2019. Since then, it has been trying to increase activities in space, but its space programme is struggling to get a decent budget, according to local reports.
The National reported earlier that the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre would try to develop at least two satellites under the Payload Hosting Initiative each year to help create access to space for developing nations.