Efforts and Achievements
Since its establishment, and to fulfill commitment to achieve his Majesty’s vision in the space field, NSSA Executive Management under the guidance of the Board of Directors and the Minister responsible for supervision of its work, has been seeking guidance from leading countries in this important field, has worked on laying the foundations, regulations and infrastructure that ensure proper management of its available resources and has opened channels of communication with several leading players to learn about the latest technologies and global trends in this field that is known for its rapid scientific and technical development.
NSSA has had many and varied efforts, which have significantly increased since early 2018, the most prominent of which can be summarized as follows:
Through meetings, consultation and communication with stakeholders, NSSA was able to preliminary identify available national resources and summarize national needs in the field of space science, applications and technology to formulate the foundations of the Kingdom of Bahrain national space policy and the NSSA Strategic Plan 2019-2023 and set priorities for the National Space Projects considering limitations, dependencies and constraints.
The Agency held more than 20 scientific work meetings with representatives of the best international companies in the field of space from different countries, in an attempt to understand the latest technologies and trends in the field of space science, applications and technology, including constructing remote sensing satellites, ground stations, space satellite images and data analysis. NSSA also explored the best ways to invest in this field and many other related topics.
In an attempt to fulfill the Royal directions towards learning about the space field and benefiting from the experiences of neighboring countries, NSSA has initiated contacting the UAE Space Agency and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), that have both played a prominent role in supporting the efforts of the Agency in the establishment phase.
A memorandum of understanding between NSSA and UAE Space Agency has been signed, and another with MBRSC for the purpose of providing expertise, implementing joint projects, building capacity, and further obtain data and satellite images for the Kingdom on a regular basis.
The first accomplishment of this cooperation was the implementation of an extensive workshop in the Kingdom of Bahrain by the UAE Space Agency for several government entities in 2016 that would help in the start up process, using the expertise of the UAE Space Agency to evaluate the candidates for the Bahrain Space Team in September 2018 and reviewing the Request for Proposal (RFP) document for constructing Bahrain’s first National satellite and ground station establishment with a focus on capacity building and knowledge transfer. Most recent is collaborating in 2019 to conduct a workshop that would help the Kingdom while drafting its national space law (in the coming years).
In an attempt to fulfill the Royal directions towards learning about the space field and benefiting from the experiences of neighboring countries, NSSA has initiated contacting King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) – the competent entity in space science in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia .
This opened new horizons for the Agency through the cooperation between the two entities in many fields related to space science, its applications and technology.
Through the cooperation between the two entities, the Agency has been able to obtain a wide range of data and high-quality satellite images in a sustainable manner to provide for many stakeholders in the Kingdom, a series of workshops have been planned for capacity building and knowledge transfer, and finally providing the Kingdom with aerial and satellite surveys.
KACST experts also played a key role in the evaluation of candidates for the Bahrain Space Team in September 2018, and supported NSSA in reviewing the Request for Proposal (RFP) document for constructing Bahrain’s first National satellite and ground station establishment with a focus on capacity building and knowledge transfer.
Today, the Agency has become the representative of the Kingdom of Bahrain in the field of space. The Agency has engaged with international organizations and many international space agencies, including the Republic of the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Italy, Lithuania, Slovenia, Ecuador, India and Canada.
Moreover, NSSA has engaged with regional space organizations (for example, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates), followed by the receipt of many offers by international space agencies to build bilateral relations through signing of memorandums of understanding (MOUs).
These MOUs will pave the way for the establishment of scientific cooperation, exchange of experiences and benefiting from the many opportunities for engagement in the space field.
NSSA has already signed several MoU’s, while others are in the pipeline.
NSSA completed drafting the National Space Policy, revising it with several stakeholders and by a specialized house of expertise, before obtaining the required approvals. Furthermore, NSSA have also completed drafting its strategy following best international practices, and involved many stakeholders in the process, after which the strategy was revised by a specialized house of expertise, before obtaining the required approvals.
The NSSA, in cooperation with the relevant authorities, will work in the coming years on drafting the National Space Law for the Kingdom of Bahrain space sector in line with the Kingdoms laws and policies and international treaties and space law governing outer space which have been developed under the auspices of the United Nations. For that purpose, NSSA have conducted a workshop, early 2019, by experienced staff from the UAE Space Agency.
Due to budget limitations – which does not correspond to the required investment in the space sector – , NSSA sought opportunities to create a source of revenue for the Agency and to obtain support from national institutions to implement a number of its diverse space-related projects for sustainable national development and promoting research in the education sector and innovation, implement community initiatives and events to promote space sciences, applications and technology in society, and emphasize on the importance of and show the impact on scientific, technical and economic development in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
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NSSA has made a strong effort to encourage the higher education institutions to adopt space-related projects and research in line with the National Strategy for Higher Education, the National Strategy for Scientific Research, and to enhance the international ranking of the Kingdom of Bahrain in the field of scientific research, supporting innovation and promoting creativity.
These efforts resulted in 2018 in signing two MOU’s with Bahrain Polytechnic and University of Bahrain, adopting a forum on space, its sciences and applications by Bahrain Polytechnic, inviting a guest speaker from ISRO in University of Bahrain for a workshop and another from a UK space expert, embedding space projects in the curriculum (currently in the concept definition phase) and possibly opening future space programs. Furthermore, signing an MoU with Arabian Gulf University in 2019.
NSSA participation in international conferences representing the Kingdom of Bahrain (such as in India, Pakistan and the UAE) has had a positive impact on defining the various national efforts in the uses of space applications and the efforts to promote them to improve many government services.
The Agency participations have created many opportunities for cooperating with international entities in addition to learning about the latest technologies and trends in space science, applications and technology.
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NSSA works with the relevant authorities in the Kingdom to complete the requirements for accession to two international space treaties out of five.
Moreover, NSSA has gained the membership of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) relevant to the peaceful uses of space and the Committee emanating from it.
The Agency has also had positive participation from the scientific and legal aspects, highlighting the role of the Kingdom and its contributions in drafting the international space law and its related definitions and principles.
The Agency has launched its first recruitment campaign to establish the “Bahrain Space Team” that will be trained and qualified to implement national space projects.
The campaign was launched in July 2018, in an attempt to recruit national competencies in various related specialties and a number was successfully recruited.
NSSA has carried out a number of stakeholders workshops on space related subjects, most prominently a focused training session on space applications and analysis of space images in cooperation with one of the leading international companies in the field of space science that took place in 2018.
Additionally, the agency organized another two stakeholders workshops in 2019, the first was on space technology and applications, and the second on space law and governance.
Finally, in 2020, the agency organized a stakeholders workshop on ground stations.
Through its relations with the space agencies, NSSA has managed to be a source of data and satellite images of high quality and accuracy for the Kingdom. The Agency seeks to be the main provider for this information to all government entities and to generate revenue by providing services in accordance with the decree of establishing NSSA.
In 2019, NSSA completed drafting the Request for Proposal (RFP) document for constructing Bahrain’s first National satellite and ground station establishment with a focus on capacity building and knowledge transfer. Following that, NSSA completed reviewing the document from many regional and international entities before obtaining the required approvals for publishing.
Early 2020, NSSA published the tender through the Tender Board and is currently in the tendering process.
NSSA focused for the past 2 years on building national capacity within the Kingdom of Bahrain to expand the user base and increase awareness in space science, technology, and applications.
For that purpose, NSSA has organized participation in over 16 space-focused training opportunities through different means and locations. Some of which will result in obtaining for example Masters in a space science discipline while others included short trainings on remote sensing and digital image processing, CubeSat design and building, space technologies, remote sensing and GIS, space law and governance and others.
NSSA focused for the past 2 years on exposing the nation to or educating them about the latest trends in space science, technologies and applications through initiating and participating in several local events, that vary depending on the targeted community, taking into consideration many factors such as age group, level of knowledge, type of event and target outcome.