The United Arab Emirates first ever nanosatellite, Nayif-1, was launched a few hours earlier – it was among 104 satellites propelled into outer space on board the PSLV-C37 rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India.
It’s the Gulf country’s first CubeSat mission led by seven Emirati engineering students from the American University of Sharjah, in collaboration with the Mohammad bin Rashid Space Centre. The first signal was heard in North America during the night hours (local time), roughly 18 minutes into the launch.
The AUS team will monitor the satellite’s direction and control until it’s switched to autonomous mode.
An educational CubeSat project, Nayif-1 will send and receive messages that will be picked up by amateur radio frequencies; it’s programmed to transfer messages in Arabic, also a first.
A CubeSat is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that is made up of small cubic units, with a mass that typically doesn’t exceed 1.33 kilograms per unit. They often use commercial off-the-shelf components for their electronics and structure.
According to its makers, the Emirati CubeSat also holds an active control system board that is being launched in space for the first time.