The CEO of the Egyptian Space Agency (EgSA), Mohamed el Qousy recently announced that Egypt plans on launching its Space City by the end of 2022. The 123-acre city will be Egypt’s most monumental step towards leveraging space technology for economic advancement and national security.
The city – built by Central Ring Road in Cairo – will have 23 facilities to support space-centred activities, research and education. The facilities include a space museum, a hotel, a space academy, a research centre, the headquarters of the African Space Agency and a centre for the design and development of satellites and other spacecraft in collaboration with Egyptian factories.
With the Space City, Egypt will join the league of technology-forward nations with comprehensive space programs such as the US, China, Russia and so on. It will also become the first African country to accomplish such a feat.
Under the direct supervision of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, EgSA plans to employ space science and technology to manufacture and launch satellites on Egyptian soil. The Agency receives funding from the government, loans and grants, and profits made by the agency itself.
The Egyptian government unveiled the spectacular project since 2018 and has very high hopes for it. In 2017, Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research estimated that the Space City would form 10% of the national income. This did not seem far-fetched since according to him, the Space Agency in countries like the UK contributed 16% to national income.
The launch of the city has experienced some delays. In September 2021, Engineer Ahmed Youssef who leads the technical group for satellites at EgSA claimed the Space City would be ready for work in the first quarter of 2022. At that time, only 4 of the 23 buildings had been completed while the completion of 5 others was underway. The city will not operate at full capacity till 2030.
Egypt’s Space History
In 2017, the Egyptian Parliament approved a draft law calling for the establishment of Egypt’s first space agency to launch the country’s first satellite dedicated to scientific research.
In 2018, Egypt launched two satellites. According to Youssef, although the satellites were designed and manufactured by Egypt, the Japanese Space Agency and US Space Agency provided assistance with the launches. “We still haven't reached the technology for launching into space yet, and the whole world is still cooperating with countries to launch satellites,” said Youssef.
In 2019, Egypt’s first space agency EgSA was established. That same year, Egypt launched the Egyptsat-2A satellite, a remote sensing satellite with a resolution almost as high as 1 metre, and the TIBA-1 satellite, Egypt’s first communication satellite dedicated to internet services. The TIBA-1 Satellite was jointly developed by Airbus and Thales Alenia Space. Egypt also launched two locally developed CubeSats that year, NARSSCube-1 and NARSSCube-2.
Egypt has had numerous other space ventures in the past.
The North African country is now working towards launching MisrSat-2 and NexSat-1 satellites for remote sensing and scientific research.