The sultanate of Oman, a small country on the Arabian Peninsula, is planning its first satellite mission into deep space.
The U.S.-based company Virgin Orbit, which is handling the launch services, announced on Wednesday that Oman has signed a memorandum of understanding with it and a consortium of commercial partners to collaborate on the mission.
The satellite will capture high-resolution imagery and other data, which will be used to conduct research into climate change, natural disasters, and the surfaces of other planets in the solar system.
“Only a few nations have been bold enough to venture into deep space, but with Oman’s strong vision supported by cutting edge launch and spacecraft technology another spacefaring nation is about to join those ranks,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart. “We are proud to have been entrusted by the Sultanate of Oman as their exclusive launch partner in helping to fulfill the goals of bringing sustainable space solutions to Oman.”
The list of partners mentioned in the announcement include:
- Virgin Orbit — providing the launch services.
- SatRevolution — designing the satellite.
- TUATARA and ETCO — providing computer vision, machine learning, and AI solutions to analyze the satellite’s data.
The deep-space mission is targeted for launch as early as the third quarter of 2024. It follows another mission involving the same partners to launch Oman’s first satellite, which is scheduled to occur this year. That latter mission will also be the first launch from Spaceport Cornwall in the UK.
“Both projects will contribute to the near-term goals of the Sultanate of Oman which include the modernization of the educational ecosystem, growth in the support of scientific research and innovation, enhancement of the in-house development of cutting-edge technologies, which will shape the world in the twenty-first century,” said SatRevolution CEO Grzegorz Zwolinski.
The deep-space mission partners will determine its final parameters and scientific objectives in a study, then expect to sign a definitive binding agreement to conduct the mission.