Orbital ATK’s VP of Strategy and Business Development, Tom Wilson, signs a Memorandum of Understanding in the UAE with Masood M. Sharif Mahmood, CEO of Yahsat (middle) and Dr. Ahmed Belhoul, CEO of Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.

Yahsat, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and Orbital ATK, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on May 25, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) to announce the joint creation of the Gulf-region’s first Master’s level advanced studies space program, endorsed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The MoU was signed in the presence of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The signing was also attended by key government officials and Chairmen of Yahsat, The UAE Space Agency and Masdar Institute.

The MoU was signed by Dr. Ahmed Belhoul, CEO of Masdar, Masood M. Sharif Mahmood, CEO of Yahsat and Tom Wilson, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, on behalf of David W. Thompson, President and CEO of Orbital ATK.

The development of this program goes along with the establishment of the UAE Space Agency last year and the nation’s goal of entering the space industry through the launch of the ‘Hope Probe’ in 2021. The initiative also forms a part of the UAE’s efforts to encourage innovation across the nation, following the pronouncement of 2015 as its ‘Year of Innovation’.

Aimed at facilitating the growth of UAE National students into diversified, high-technology areas of study, the program aims to welcome its first group of graduate students at Masdar Institute in January 2016, and provide a rigorous academic grounding in a multitude of space-related scientific and engineering disciplines. The partnership will result in a Master’s degree program in Engineering, with a concentration in Space Systems and Technology, after the program receives all the necessary approvals from the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

The degree program offers a unique opportunity to UAE graduate students for contributing to high-tech research into space technology, and will include the student-led design, integration, construction, testing and operation of a mini-satellite, known in the industry as a CubeSat, which will be launched into space and monitored from the ground station. Yahsat’s partnership with Orbital ATK has aided the development of this unique, comprehensive academic program by adding a robust technical dimension.

Commenting on this strategic partnership, Masood M. Sharif Mahmood, CEO of Yahsat, said, “This will lead to extraordinary achievements for the UAE and is an important step toward realizing our national vision of becoming an innovation and technology capital for the region. Our partnership with Orbital ATK and Masdar Institute will provide these students with practical, hands-on experience bridging what they learn in the classroom and enabling them to apply these skills towards building and launching the mini-satellite.”

Orbital ATK’s President and CEO David W. Thompson said, “We are thrilled to be a partner in this exciting project. Not only will our subject matter experts help refine and structure the program’s curriculum, we will also provide for the use of our testing facility to help students verify the design of their CubeSat before launch.”

Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, Chief Executive Officer, Masdar, signing on behalf of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, said, “As the UAE continues to increase its focus on its aerospace, defense and satellite industries, the requirement for local expertise, especially highly-trained UAE nationals, will also increase. The launch of the Gulf’s first Master’s program concentration in space systems and technology at Masdar Institute, in collaboration with Yahsat and Orbital ATK, will help create the necessary environment to develop this talent base.”

Dr Eng, Mohammad Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director-General, UAE Space Agency commented, “This collaboration involving two of the UAE’s most innovative and forward thinking organizations is a giant leap forward for our country’s space program. By promoting the advanced study of space technology, Yahsat, Masdar and Orbital ATK are playing a vital role in developing the skills necessary for the UAE to become a leader in one of the most important industries of the future. I look forward to seeing the results of the new students’ endeavors.”

Yahsat is committed to developing talent and expertise in the field of science and technology, building a sustainable talent pool of the next generation of space engineers.

About Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PrJSC, “Yahsat”

Yahsat provides multipurpose satellite solutions (government and commercial) for broadband, broadcast, government, and communications use across the Middle East, Africa, and Europe in addition to Central and South West Asia. Based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and wholly owned by Mubadala Development Company PJSC, the investment vehicle of the Government of Abu Dhabi, Yahsat is the first company in the Middle East and Africa to offer multi-purpose satellite services including:

● YahClick – offers satellite internet for home and business
● YahService – offers managed solutions and government capacity
● YahLink – offers IP trunking solutions, corporate networking and backhauling capacity
● Yahlive – a joint venture between Yahsat and SES, offers premium services to broadcasters and a select choice of TV channels

Yahsat’s first satellite Y1A was successfully launched in April 2011, and the company’s second satellite Y1B was successfully launched in April 2012. Yahsat has announced the manufacturing of its third satellite, Al Yah 3, planned for launch in Q4 2016, extending their commercial Ka-band coverage across additional markets in Africa, which will reach over 60% of the population, as well as its first entry in to Brazil, where it will cover over 95% of the population.

For more information visit www.yahsat.ae or www.mubadala.ae

Media Contacts:
Noura Charaf +971 2 5076 138

Megan Ballantyine +971 55 1969553

About Masdar Institute

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (Masdar Institute) was established by the government of Abu Dhabi as a not-for-profit, private graduate university to develop indigenous R&D capacity in Abu Dhabi addressing issues of importance to the region.

In collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Masdar Institute has developed an academic and research platform that articulates its mission and vision according to critical energy and sustainability challenges.

An important characteristic of Masdar Institute is its focus on complex real-world problems that require a multidisciplinary approach for the development of solutions from an integrated technology, systems and policy perspective. This multi-interdisciplinary and integrated approach is supported by the structure of its academic programs and by the emphasis placed on engaging external partners from industry, government, and other academic institutions in collaborative activities.

Serving as a key pillar of innovation and human capital, Masdar Institute remains fundamental to Masdar’s core objectives of developing Abu Dhabi’s knowledge economy and finding solutions to humanity’s toughest challenges such as climate change.

Masdar Institute integrates theory and practice to incubate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, working to develop the critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow. With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the Institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research.

Please visit our website http://www.masdar.ac.ae/

For more information contact:
Shaima Al Jarman +971 02 810 9365
Director – Marketing & Communications
Public Affairs Department

About Orbital ATK

Orbital ATK is a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies. The company designs, builds and delivers space, defense and aviation systems for customers around the world, both as a prime contractor and merchant supplier. Its main products include launch vehicles and related propulsion systems; missile products, subsystems and defense electronics; precision weapons, armament systems and ammunition; satellites and associated space components and services; and advanced aerospace structures. Headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, Orbital ATK employs more than 12,000 people in 20 states across the U.S. and in several international locations. For more information, visit www.orbitalatk.com.