The KhalifaSat observation satellite is EIAST's third satellite, following the DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2 respectively launched in 2009 and 2013. Significantly, however, the new satellite marks EIAST's first satellite wholly developed by Emirati engineers in the UAE, leveraging the experience accumulated from the two earlier launches. The importance attached to the national project to develop and launch a domestic satellite is reflected in its name, Khalifa being the name of the UAE President.
Commenting on the Khalifasat-related order, Director General H.E. Yousuf Al Shaibani said:
"EIAST is looking forward to this collaboration with MHI. After evaluating MHI's launch service in terms of H-IIA launch vehicle performance, as well as the group's technical and operational expertise and its past successful launches, we are confident that they are the ones to entrust with the launch of KhalifaSat, which is a landmark project for EIAST and the UAE in general. MHI has proven to be very competitive in overall commercial terms and has a very good reputation in the global space technology community. Our 100% Emirati team of engineers are currently at work at EIAST's specially designed satellite manufacturing facilities on the final stages of KhalifaSat in preparation for its launch planed from late 2017 to early 2018."
"We believe that the success rate, schedule assurance of MHI launch services, and the traditional Japanese traits of meticulous response and sincere attentiveness were highly evaluated by EIAST. The good relationship between EIAST and JAXA also helped MHI win the order," said Naohiko Abe, Vice President & Senior General Manager of the Space Systems in MHI's Integrated Defense & Space Systems business domain. "Proceeding to full-scale coordination and preparation for the launch, we will take every measure and fully utilize our resources to meet the expectation of EIAST." Abe also expressed his gratitude to the related Japanese ministries, governmental offices and agencies, saying "We also appreciate the understanding and support of everyone who helped enable the launch of KhalifaSat together with GOSAT-2."
EIAST is an aerospace development institution wholly funded by the Dubai Government established in 2006. Its scope of operations presently includes earth observation, satellite navigation and satellite communications. The organization has a staff numbering some 80 employees.
The H-IIA rocket is Japan's mainstay launch vehicle. It has one of the world's highest success rates - approximately 96%, having completed 26 successful launches among 27 attempts.
MHI has played a key role in Japan's development of space rockets since a national program was introduced in 1975. Following technology transfer from JAXA, the company has been responsible for all aspects from manufacture to satellite launch commencing with the H-IIA No.13 (launched in September 2007) and the H-IIB No.4 (launched in August 2013). On the heels of earlier milestones – the first order for launch services received by an overseas customer in 2009 (KOMPSAT-3) and the first order for launch of a commercial satellite in 2013 (Telesat) – this latest order for launch services from an overseas client demonstrates that MHI is clearly opening up new horizons in its aerospace business operations.
Leveraging this new order, going forward MHI will now seek out new demand for its satellite launch services ever more vigorously both at home and abroad, in its quest to play a central role in establishing the industrial foundation to support Japan's independent aerospace activities.