China launches satellite with Saudi payload to explore Moon’s far side

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Time: May 23, 2018

Riyadh — Saudi Arabia and China shared a rare trip to explore the invisible side of the Moon closely with the launch of a relay satellite on Monday.

The satellite is equipped with a payload for a space sensory system developed by Saudi engineers and researchers for filming and taking photos of the Moon.

The cooperation between Riyadh and Beijing comes in implementation of a memorandum of understanding concluded between the two countries during the visit of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to China on March 16, 2017, which laid the foundation for cooperation with the Chines Space Agency to explore the moon.

The payload was readied by Saudi engineers and researchers in a record time of 12 months during which the Saudi research team faced numerous challenges, most prominent of which was manufacturing a compact payload with a high capacity of less than 10.5 and a weight of no more than 630 grams on the Chinese satellite.

The joint venture between Saudi Arabia and China aims at studying and exploring the moon, particularly the invisible side of it, to provide scientific data for researchers and specialists in space research and science.

To mark the occasion, Dr. Turki Bin Saud Bin Mohammed, President of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), said Saudi Arabia’s participation in this great event will boost its efforts to develop its satellite technology and use it in several fields of reconnaissance and distance censoring as well as space telecommunications.

He said the payload consists of photographic units, data processing, the mediator between the satellite systems and the payload system which is light weight and has the ability to endure the space environment and taking photos from different angles and altitudes with an accuracy that varies according to the lunar orbit changes from 38 m to 88 m at 300km-9000 km altitudes, restoring and processing them.

He said KACST has scored success in developing those systems through a specialized task team of a host of Saudi engineers and researchers who contributed to the designing and manufacturing of the lunar filming payload system at the city’s labs.

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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