KU Affairs

Khalifa University’s DhabiSat Deployed into Its Orbital Slot, Marking another Milestone Event for UAE

July 13, 2021

Second CubeSat Designed and Built by Students, Gently Eases into its Orbit after Leaving International Space Station  


Khalifa University and Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) have jointly announced the deployment of DhabiSat into orbit from Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply spacecraft, marking yet another milestone achievement for the university and the UAE.


DhabiSat, the second CubeSat designed and built by Khalifa University students, gently eased into its orbit after leaving the International Space Station (ISS). The primary mission of DhabiSat is to enable students to design, implement, and test software modules for attitude determination and control subsystems (ADCS). The work was conducted at the Yahsat Space Lab, which is part of the Khalifa University Space Technology and Innovation Lab (KUSTIL).


Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University, said: “With the deployment of DhabiSat into its orbital slot, our students and our partners have once again registered another key milestone for Khalifa University and the UAE. We thank our partners Yahsat and Northrop Grumman, who have supported our students throughout the process of designing, developing and launching DhabiSat, the third CubeSat built by Khalifa University students, as well as another CubeSat we are planning to build in the future. As the UAE begins to consolidate its status as a space power in the world, we look forward to creating more scientific talent and human capital, especially in the space science sector, along with our academic and industry partners.”


Congratulating the team, Yahsat’s Chief Human Capital Officer Muna Almheiri said: “This is a significant step in the UAE’s mission to develop homegrown talent to lead its National Space Programme. We need future generations of Emirati space leaders and visionaries to fulfill the aspirations of our founding fathers, and the rich potential of our nation. DhabiSat’s successful deployment underscores the aptitude, skills, and maturity of our youth to manage multi-pronged programmes and work with the leading lights in the global space industry. Yahsat is very passionate about helping worthy candidates grow and understand advanced satellite technologies to spur national industrialization efforts. The Yahsat Space Lab established at KUSTIL is an excellent vehicle for the development of local manpower in space and system engineering fields, and DhabiSat is yet another example of its success. We also thank our partners – UAE Space Agency, Khalifa University, and Northrop Grumman – for their committed support to the cause. The UAE’s space ambitions are not defined or limited by national borders, and DhabiSat is a perfect example of what a country can achieve through national and international collaborations.”


“As technical advisor and student mentor to the DhabiSat team, Northrop Grumman looks forward to the results of the attitude control research that will be carried out by the satellite,’ said Frank DeMauro, vice-president and general manager, tactical space systems, Northrop Grumman. “The deployment of DhabiSat and other CubeSats also highlights the versatility and value in our Cygnus resupply vehicle carrying out missions beyond supplying the International Space Station.”


DhabiSat will assess the accuracy of various ADCS pointing control strategies and validate the same by taking images using a digital camera onboard pointed in specific directions. The new ADCS algorithms shall improve the pointing accuracy of the CubeSat and its response time to attitude changes as compared to conventional algorithms. In terms of system resources, DhabiSat will require less power to achieve the targeted pointings and if successful, the algorithms will gain flight heritage on board DhabiSat, which then can be used as a baseline for future CubeSat missions.


Earlier, MySat-1, the first CubeSat developed by students of Khalifa University, was deployed from the NG-10 Cygnus spacecraft in February 2019. The educational and communication CubeSat sent images from space that were received by the satellite ground station at Khalifa University. In addition, a new Lithium Ion battery, manufactured at Khalifa University’s Masdar Institute laboratories, was also tested in space. Students and faculty have so far published several papers based on the data from MySat-1.


Clarence Michael
English Editor Specialist
13 July 2021