This week, Saudi Arabia reached new heights as its Arabsat-6A communication satellite was successfully launched into orbit, a feat made possible by SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, described by CNN as “by far the most powerful operational launch vehicle in the world.” According to an official statement on Spacex.com, “Arabsat-6A is a high-capacity telecommunications satellite that will deliver television, radio, Internet, and mobile communications to customers in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.”
Launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, this was the first time that the impressive rocket embarked on a mission by a paying customer. About 34 minutes after takeoff, Arabsat’s satellite was successfully deployed. This milestone date in Saudi Arabia’s history also marks the first time SpaceX’s three rocket boosters successfully returned to Earth after launch.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia launched its first-ever satellite for communications (SGS-1). Sent into space in February from the Guiana Space Center (in French Guiana, South America) on an Ariane 5 rocket, SGS-1 has been designed to provide secure communications, internet connectivity, and television signal across the region. Today, it orbits the earth with the words “High Above The Clouds” written by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.
As Saudi Arabia continues its drive towards creating a more tech-centric and knowledge-based economy, under the objectives laid out in its Vision 2030 national strategy, it is focusing heavily on “localizing strategic technologies in the Kingdom, increasing local content and enabling Saudi young people to work with advanced state-of-the-art technologies in the field of satellite development and manufacturing,” as highlighted in an article earlier this year by Saudi Gazette.