Another Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country, Kuwait has made its foray in Space when it successfully launched its first satellite `Kuwait Sat-1.’ This was launched onboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, US earlier this week.
The GCC countries’ forays into space are at very early stages but they have ambitious plans. The idea is to promote space exploration programmes and encourage and engage the regional youth to develop an interest in the area,” Md. Muddassir Quamar, PhD, Associate Fellow, MP-Institute of Defence Studies & Analyses tells Financial Express Online.
According to Quamar who is an expert on the region, “The UAE has made some strides in this regard. It launched the Mars mission Hope in 2020, and sent a lunar rover in association with SpaceX on 11 December 2022. Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait too have founded national space agencies. These are part of a larger wish among the GCC rulers to inculcate scientific temper among citizens and promote the study of science and technology.”
The security implications of these programmes are yet to be thoroughly assessed and needs to be discussed and understood.
Security Implications: Expert View
In Md. Muddassir Quamar’s opinion, “So far as its security implications are concerned, these are still early days to suggest serious security implications. It certainly gives regional states more control over information. There is also an underlying sense of competition within Arab states, and with Iran and Turkey that have accumulated military strength compared to the Arab states. Egypt too for example has been investing in space programmes.”
Adding, “The regional space programmes are in early stages, and mostly not self-sustained, meaning they are mostly developing in partnership with countries like the US, Japan, South Korea and private companies foraying into space exploration.”
Kuwait Space Programme
In an endeavour to bring Kuwait’s space ambitions to fructition, Kuwait University undertook this project and completed it in three years. Funded by Kuwait Foundation for Advancement of Sciences, this has been hailed as a milestone effort in setting up the country’s space industry.
Possibility of ISRO & Kuwait working together in Space Sector
In an interaction with Financial Express Online, the ambassador of Kuwait to India, Jasem Al Najem, said “The launch was the culmination of diligent work over the course of the past three years, with the aim of realizing Kuwait’s space ambitions.”
“As of April 2022, the Government of India has signed space cooperative documents with space agencies of 60 countries and multinational bodies. In view of the aspirations of the two friendly countries to expand their space programmes by launching various initiatives in this sector, it is of great importance to work on space programs by both the countries, which will lead to strengthening cooperation between the two friendly countries, as India has huge capabilities and extensive experience in launching Satellites,” Ambassador Najem said.
“India’s space programme has progressed substantially under the guidance of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), making the country as one of the world’s five most technologically advanced nations in the space sector. From 1999 till December 15, 2021, a total of 342 foreign satellites from 34 countries have been successfully launched on board Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on a commercial basis,” he said.
And, “India has signed various cooperative agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with other countries and organizations as an initiative to expand its international outreach. The areas of co-operation are mainly focused on remote sensing of the earth, maritime domain awareness, satellite communication, launch services, space exploration and capacity building,” the ambassador of Kuwait added.