UAE satellite to launch

Originally set to take off on November 25, the Arianespace spacecraft will today launch the UAE’s Falcon Eye 2 satellite

UAE satellite

Photo: Stephane Corvaja/ ESA

Originally set to take off on November 25, the Arianespace spacecraft will today launch the UAE’s Falcon Eye 2 satellite aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket.

Falcon Eye 2 will launch aboard the reliable Soyuz platform after 2019’s catastrophic Vega rocket malfunction destroyed the first Falcon Eye. After flying for 37 years without incident, it was determined that poor quality control in the Russian manufacturer led to Vega’s first failure. The UAE is reliant on rockets sourced from Russia, Japan, Europe and the US, as well as payloads designed and built by their respective defence sectors.

Falcon Eye, built by French giant Thales, is a $415 million military-grade Earth-imaging satellite based on an upgraded French design. Capable of imaging 20km swathes of land at a precise 70cm resolution, it will allow Abu Dhabi to expand the reach of its global geospatial intelligence-gathering capabilities. As regional relations between Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Israel begin to stabilise, expect Abu Dhabi to expand its orbital intelligence assets to pre-empt future encroachment by Ankara or Tehran. Expect today’s launch to spark the procurement of similar intelligence satellites by other regional players looking for the strategic high ground.

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