By Binsal Abdulkader
ABU DHABI, 8th July, 2020 (WAM) — The space technologies developed by the UAE’s Mars Mission will contribute to the aerospace industry in three key ways – the transformation of aircraft design, ventilation technology and aircraft propulsion, a senior industry executive told Emirates News Agency, WAM.
“The Mars Mission will create a significant amount of invaluable data that will help shape future of manufacturing techniques in areas such as satellite development and spaceship innovation,” said Badr Al Olama, Head of Aerospace at Mubadala Investment Company.
“We are just around the corner from space tourism, with major advances in Virgin Galactic [in which Mubadala has a stake] taking us very close to the first tourist flight into space,” he added.
“What then is going to happen between the time between the Virgin Galactic space tourism project taking off and the UAE’s plan to send a man to Mars?” he asked.
Explaining the impact of space technologies developed by the UAE’s Mars Mission on aerospace industry, Al Olama said in aircraft design the materials that help sustain aircraft and spaceships in harsh environments and extreme temperatures will evolve.
These materials and the advanced technologies used for the Mars Mission have the potential to transform the aircraft of the future, he said.
“The second area is in the ventilation systems that help us breathe at 40,000 feet or more,” the executive pointed out.
For the UAE’s Mars Mission to succeed and for man to survive the long journey and then set foot on the red planet, major technological advances in ventilation will be needed. These innovations will be instrumental in further developing existing aircraft ventilation systems, Al Olama explained.
And when it comes to aircraft propulsion, the aviation industry is looking at redesigning systems to enhance fuel efficiency in a way that enables even longer haul flights, he added.
“Two areas that have already gained impressive traction in the industry are the use of synthetic fuels and the adoption of electric engines, which have both seen some exciting developments in recent months and years,” the executive noted.
“Of course, the logistics involved in travelling to Mars and coming back will also accelerate the evolution of related aerospace technologies in ways that we can’t yet imagine. This is the power of innovation and creativity; it has the ability to take us in amazing new directions and create new paths for the future,” he went on to say.
Virgin Galactic is pushing forward its efforts to achieve its first manned commercial space flight and is in discussions with a wide range of parties, including other countries with their own space programmes, Al Olama said.
One of the most important parts of space tourism, which has been forged by Virgin Galactic is the ability to create opportunities for people of all backgrounds to experience space, he noted.
“This realm was previously the preserve of elite astronauts, but with Virgin Galactic and the support of donors, there will be unique opportunities for people from underprivileged backgrounds as well as People of Determination to experience the wonder of space. Ultimately, the mission is to open this awe-inspiring possibility to as many people as possible,” he explained.
Impact on global aerospace industry
Talking about the UAE Mars Mission’s impact on business environment of the global aerospace industry, Al Olama said, “The aerospace industry has evolved over many decades and while it is a challenging operating environment, the fundamentals for the sector remain robust.”
“There is a significant impact on demand for passenger travel, but during the pandemic the importance of airfreight has been crucial in enabling essential goods, such as medical supplies and food, to enter and leave countries, so we have seen the industry adapt and create value in different ways,” he explained.
He added that the current situation has shown that investing in innovative new systems and tools, whether in the manufacturing sector, maintenance, repair and operations, MRO, or in the commercial airline sector, is essential to enable companies to navigate these types of challenges.
UAE aerospace industry
The Mars Mission also has a more profound impact on the local aerospace sector in the UAE, he pointed out.
“It shows the next generation what can be done with passion, determination and vision. The achievements of the UAE aerospace sector mirror this, and it is my belief that this bold and adventurous Mars Mission will be the catalyst for future industry leaders to forge a path in the sector,” he said.
WAM/ Ibrahim Shukralla