UAE surveillance setback after satellite loss

Published in GSN, 18 July 2019

The UAE’s plans to develop a new generation of military surveillance capabilities suffered a setback on 11 July, when an Arianespace Vega rocket carrying its French-built Falcon Eye 1 satellite deviated from its course two minutes after launch and was lost. Arianespace said there had been a “launcher anomaly… leading to the premature end of the mission”. The launch had been postponed twice due to poor weather conditions and high winds over the French Guiana Space Centre in South America.

Four years of work had gone into preparing for the launch of the satellite, which was designed to provide high-definition imagery for the UAE Armed Forces over the next decade, offering a resolution of 70cm across a 20km swathe of ground. It was the first of a pair of satellites due to be launched.

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