UAE announces 2028 mission to asteroid belt

Ground Station

Artist depiction of the asteroid belt

The UAE has announced another groundbreaking space mission for the nation. Its destination: the asteroid belt. They will be working jointly with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado – Boulder with whom they’ve successfully collaborated with in the past on the UAE Mars orbiter, Hope. This mission is part of a much larger pivot by the country to move its economy from one based on oil exports to a space-based economy – perhaps on track to even being the first country in the world to have space as the dominant economic sector. After planned flybys of Venus then Earth, it will reach the belt by 2030 and attempt a soft landing on an asteroid by 2033. The mission goals have not be revealed yet, but are speculated to be an investigation on further asteroid belt missions, including returns.

It’s vital to talk about the security of these missions even when they are at the drawing board stage. The mission goals, while being made public next year, is critical data to be kept safe until then. The planning of an asteroid belt mission with their unique path and space vehicle could be considered IP or critical data that must be protected. The main attacks will be towards ground stations and developmental facilities at this stage as production and testing proceed. As more and more nations are entering space without the goal of cislunar dominion, larger space actors may be interested in gaining unauthorized access to privileged mission details and planning. This information could be used to lead another nation’s wealth and resources towards their space security goals, or to even sabotage an up and coming rival that may be seen as supporting the other major space powers.

Leave a Reply