A Framework Agreement between the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was signed, today, in a ceremony held at the Le Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel in Port Louis.
The Framework Agreement for cooperation in the field of outer space and space technologies was signed by the Minister of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Darsanand Balgobin, and the Director General of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, Mr Salem Humaid Al Marri.
At the outset, Minister Balgobin put forward the Flagship Space programmes of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, which he deemed impressive. The programmes range from the design, build and launch of satellites in space and sending of Emirati Astronauts to the International Space Station to the establishment of a sustainable colony on planet Mars within the next 100 years.
According to Minister Balgobin, the Agreement Framework would enable the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre to engage into discussions and working sessions to define and implement several key aspects of the Mauritius Space Programme. He stated that the scope of the agreement included, among others, expert advice for the development of space roadmap/space strategy and space policy; technical guidance to develop satellite structure, sub-systems and payload which would be useful for both parties; facilitation of establishment of new start-ups in the field of satellite/space technology; and the optimal use of the Space Ground Station facilities in Mauritius to track and download UAE satellite data whenever applicable.
The potential opportunities offered by space technologies for the sustainable socio-economic development of Mauritius were also highlighted by Mr Balgobin, namely in the fields of capacity building, disaster risk management, weather and climate monitoring, connectivity to remote areas, as well as maritime surveillance and security regarding the country’s 2.3 million square Kilometres of Exclusive Economic Zone. “If we adopt the correct strategies, we are hopeful that soon we would be able to manage and exploit sustainably our oceanic and ‘spatial’ resources and engage into high-end Research and Development to foster innovation in the country,” he said.
For his part, the Director General of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre underlined that the agreement not only strengthen bilateral ties but would also be beneficial to both Parties. “Both Mauritius and the UAE could learn and benefit from each other as the Space Centre would work very closely with institutions from Mauritius,” he said.
Mr Salem Humaid Al Marri thus elaborated on the future areas of collaboration such as allowing Mauritian engineers and students to undergo live training on the satellite system in Dubai, and enabling Mauritius to get access to space through the provision of a platform where cameras, payloads and systems from the country could be sent to space.
The Director General of the Space Centre moreover underlined that under the Agreement, Mauritian students would be able to participate in a live session with UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who would go to the International Space Station (ISS) for a six-month mission at the end of February 2023. Mr Salem Humaid Al Marri was of the view that this initiative would inspire students to learn more about science and space exploration.