Saudi Arabia will launch two satellites in 2013 and 2015 as part of a space science development strategy, Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed, KACST vice president for Research Institutes told the 2nd Saudi International Space and Aeronautics Technology Conference.
He said SAUDISAT4 and SAUDI GEO1 equipped with highly sensitive devices and cameras would conduct various scientific experiments. The Space Research Institute at King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology has already launched 12 satellites from Baikonur space station in Kazakhstan for communication and other purposes.
"It aims to make Saudi Arabia a leading supplier of earth monitoring products from space, interactive maps and strengthen satellite capabilities," the prince said.
He said the Kingdom will collaborate with some of the world's most reputable partners, including NASA, in space exploration.
The global meeting was organized by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). It is held in association with the 25th Planetary Congress of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE).
In his presentation on the KSA National Plan for Science, Prince Turki said in 2020 KSA will be a leading science, technology and innovation (STI) country in Asia and transform the country into a knowledge-based economy. He said Saudi Arabia has budgeted the plans that ends in 2025 for SR 8 billion.
He noted that in addition to the satellite program, KACST has also embarked on a major program to assist outstanding students to conduct research at US labs as part of efforts to produce a new generation of Saudi space scientists. This program will allow Saudi students to conduct research programs on board US space stations, opening new horizons for them in space science.
Other areas that scientists are participating in the KACST Space and Aeronautics Program include the design, development and production of aeronautic technology. This includes leading airborne radio frequency and EO sensor solutions for fast jet and transport aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
KACST is currently working on several projects, including the Gravity Probe-B Experiment. There is also an ongoing partnership between the Saudi Lunar and Near-Earth Object Science Center and NASA's Lunar Science Institute.
KACST will focus on 15 technological areas that have been identified as critical for KSA, such as water, oil and gas, petrochemicals, nanotechnology, information technology, electronics and communications, space and aeronautics, energy environment, advanced materials, mathematics and physics, medical and health and building and construction.