JEDDAH: A far-reaching research and development deal to advance space technologies has been signed between two industry leaders from Saudi Arabia and the US.
The agreement, aimed at boosting innovation, and the space and digital economy, was inked on Monday in Washington, D.C. on the sidelines of an official visit to America by a high-level delegation from the Kingdom.
Munir bin Mahmoud El-Desouki, the president of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, and Tim Cahill, senior vice president of aeronautics company Lockheed Martin, signed the accord that will see increased cooperation between the two countries in the space technology sector.
As well as developing Saudi workforce skills in line with the Vision 2030 reform plan, the signatories plan to promote further investment in sector-related research.
An infographic posted on the Saudi Space Commission’s official Twitter account outlined some of the terms of the collaboration.
It said: “The agreement includes identifying projects that will enhance research and develop more Saudi capabilities in the Kingdom’s space industry, in addition to implementing training programs to develop human resources in the space and innovation sector.”
During Monday’s visit, Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha met with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Deputy Administrator Pamela Melroy and discussed opportunities for strategic cooperation in the space sector.
In a tweet, the commission said the main goals of the meeting had been to explore collaborations between the two countries in space and its technologies, look at ways to boost investment in shared future projects, and promote strategic partnerships in developing the space sector.
Saudi Ambassador to the US Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan also attended the meeting along with Muhammad bin Saud Al-Tamimi, president-designate of the Saudi Space Commission.
The visit included tours of US institutions and companies linked to the space sector and formed part of the commission’s ongoing efforts to increase its cooperation with international industry specialists.
In a tweet, the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said Al-Swaha had met with Saudi students undertaking science, technology, and space scholarships in America, “to talk about the digital economy and the innovation-based economy and to confirm their future role in enhancing the Kingdom’s pioneering position and in building a sustainable future.”
Monday’s agreement was not the first between KACST and Lockheed Martin. In 2018, the parties agreed a cooperation deal to launch the first Saudi communication satellite, known as SaudiGeoSat 1/HellasSat 4. The Saudi and Greek geostationary communication satellite covers the Gulf region, North Africa, and Europe.