Prince Dr. Turki Bin Saud Bin Mohammad Al Saud, President of King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) announced an ambitious space program that comprehends Miniaturized Autonomous Distributed Space System (MDSS) which is a highly sophisticated satellite program that will do missions which used to cost NASA [the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration] and others billions and do them in terms of tens of millions of dollars.
Prince Dr. Turki highlighted that KACST works to develop the advanced technology of these sophisticated satellites teaming-up with NASA, Stanford University and DLR [the German Aerospace Center] for the two space missions that would be launched at the year 2019 and the year 2020 or 2023, "Then we would have a space program that extends for 12 years, through which we would launch a satellite every two or three years."
In the speech he gave in NASA's recent celebration of the STS 51G 30th Anniversary at Washington, Prince Dr. Turki said " It is an honor and great pleasure to be with you tonight in the 30th anniversary of this fantastic space mission. As was mentioned in the film, this mission has really inspired many people in the Islamic and Arab world and in Saudi Arabia on particular."
The Prince went on "I'll summarize what has happened in Saudi Arabia in the last 30 years since then, so, help me God. The Kingdom has undertaken huge efforts in the transition of space sciences and technology for its development. One of these applications is, of course, remote sensing and communications. The Kingdom has also started a remarkable program for satellite technology which looks at building human capability, transferring technology, infrastructure building and also creating space industry in the Kingdom that will sustain all these capabilities for the future."
Prince Turki underlined "In this concern, the Kingdom concentrated on 3 applications of this satellite technology: remote-sensing, communications and space sciences. We have launched since the year 2000, thirteen (13) satellites in these areas. In remote sensing, we have launched the latest satellite in the year 2007 with resolution of 2, 5 meters and a control joystick that is very rare in many of the remote sensing satellites which can actually make it stop in one position and work all the time. We have developed much higher resolution of sub-meters resolution in both remote sensing and radar areas. We will be launching one of these satellites next year and will continue every two or three years launching satellite for domestic applications."
Prince Dr. Turki carried on "In the communication area, we engaged initially in small Low Earth Orbit (LEO) communication satellites. We recently joined with Arabsat, the partner in the mission, initially to build with Lockheed Martin the first Saudi geo-stationary satellite which involves transferring technology and collaborating with Lockheed Martin."
The Prince revealed "We have agreed to announce with Lockheed a joint venture between KACST, Lockheed and Taqnia Space, which is a company established by the government and headed by KACST as well, to build geo-stationary satellites in the Kingdom for the Middle-Eastern requirements which basically means all MENA [the Middle East and North Africa] region, so, if Lockheed wants to build satellites for the Middle-Eastern region, it will build them in the Saudi Arabia."
Prince Turki elaborated "That was in the industry, as for space sciences, we have engaged in collaboration with NASA, of course and we are very pleased with this collaboration. As General Bolden mentioned in his speech, we have an experiment which had been flown on Saudi sat 4 last year. The experiment was developed jointly with NASA and Stanford and got excellent results and more results are still coming. This technology is fundamental for future missions."
KACST President went on "Ultimately, leading to LISA [The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna] which is, as you know is a more than a billion dollar project, we have what is called a mini- LISA, which actually measures the gravitational waves and we think together with NASA and Stanford that this can be done on the new generation of satellites Saudi sat 4."
Prince Dr. Turki concluded "This is the track we are going forward on and we will expand in the future under the guidance of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz. We had been asked to expand our collaboration internationally and also to look carefully at manned as well as unmanned missions in the future. We are currently looking at all these possibilities and in international collaboration that would include sustainable manned and manned missions for the future. I'm very happy to be with you today and we are looking for collaboration with everybody and for the anniversary in five years from now."