UAE Launches 20kg Satellite: A Space Revolution? 


UAE and UN launch 20kg satellite to revolutionize space access for start-ups and nations, marking a significant milestone in their joint initiative. 

  • The PHI-Demo satellite CubeSat carries innovative technology payloads, promising greener propulsion and enhanced connectivity. 
  • MBRSC and partner laboratories ensure smooth operation and pave the way for future space exploration advancements. 

In a groundbreaking collaboration, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United Nations (UN) are set to launch a 20kg satellite, marking a significant milestone in their joint initiative to provide access to space for start-ups and nations venturing into their own space programs. The PHI-Demo CubeSat, the first mission under the Payload Hosting Initiative (PHI), is scheduled to launch on June 27 from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia. 

The satellite carries two revolutionary technology payloads that contribute to the transformative power of space exploration. The first payload, developed by UK-based SteamJet Space Systems, introduces a propulsion subsystem that utilizes water as a fuel source, promising greener and more sustainable space missions. This groundbreaking technology sets a precedent for environmental responsibility within the aerospace industry. 

The second payload, designed by UAE company OQ Technology, aims to revolutionize connectivity. With a vision to establish a global satellite constellation dedicated to 5G, OQ Technology’s Internet of Things communication system has the capability to collect and forward data from remote areas, industries, and autonomous vehicles. This opens up possibilities for enhanced communication and connectivity across diverse sectors. 

These payloads contain features that appeal to individuals and organizations interested in sustainable space exploration and improved connectivity. The greener propulsion system addresses environmental concerns, while the IoT communication system opens up new possibilities for data collection and connectivity, empowering various industries and sectors with advanced communication capabilities.

The PHI-Demo CubeSat, consisting of 12 modular units, is poised to revolutionize space exploration with its innovative design and cutting-edge technology. Zakaria Al Shamsi, project manager of the initiative, expressed the significance of the mission, stating, “This mission not only serves as our trail for all forthcoming PHI missions, but it also holds significant value as a program that will be beneficial for a lot of organizations and entities in the region.” 


Throughout the mission, mission control specialists at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) will maintain constant communication with the satellite, ensuring its smooth operation in orbit at an altitude of 550km. Additionally, laboratories at the American University in Ras Al Khaimah and Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi will play a crucial role in sending commands to the satellite, further supporting its mission. 

During a meticulously planned five-day period, the MBRSC technical team will maintain daily, precise 10-minute communications with the PHI-Demo satellite as it traverses above the UAE. Following the successful completion of this phase, the team will initiate payload operations, marking a significant milestone in the PHI mission. 

Looking to the future, the PHI-1 CubeSat is the next satellite in line under the Payload Hosting Initiative. Bahrain and Nepal have been chosen to incorporate their innovative technologies into the project. Bahrain’s National Space Science Agency will develop the Aman payload, ensuring secure communication between the satellite and ground station. Nepal’s Antarikchya Pratisthan, a non-profit organization, will contribute to the project by studying drone operations in space through the Danfe Space Mission. 

With the launch of the PHI-Demo satellite, the UAE and UN are spearheading a transformative shift in space exploration. By providing opportunities for start-ups and countries to access space, this visionary initiative propels us closer to a future where the wonders of the cosmos are within reach for all. 

According to Zakaria Al Shamsi, “This mission not only showcases the UAE’s commitment to space exploration but also represents a significant step towards global collaboration and innovation in the field. We are excited to see the potential benefits this initiative will bring to organizations and entities in the region and beyond.” 

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