Oman plans to build the Middle East’s first space rocket launch centre this year.
Located in the port town of Duqm, the Etlaq Space Launch Complex, a project by the National Aerospace Services Company, could see its first rocket launch early next year.
However, it will take three years to fully complete the centre.
“We have two main goals with the Duqm launch land: to build a launch centre for commercial, professional and educational rocket users to assemble, test and launch from,” Nascom said.
“The launch centre will be globally accessible for expanding rocket companies, and locally available for educational research programmes.”
Private space companies, such as Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, have eyed the Middle East, especially the Emirates, for spaceports. But nothing has materialised, even though the UAE’s space strategy includes setting up a launch pad for space tourism flights.
Oman’s plans could give a significant boost to the region’s space programmes, as private companies and government agencies could use the pad for orbital launches.
First suborbital launch from Oman
Nascom also hopes to build the first Omani suborbital rocket that would be launched from the complex.
“The rockets will inspire the youth to pursue science and technology and will set a standard for future generations to achieve and surpass,” the company said. It plans to develop rockets with hybrid-solid engines.
“The solid fuel which we have been testing is much safer and environmentally friendly than the fuels used in liquid engines,” Nascom said. “The scale of rocket we are developing is comparable to the suborbital rockets which are launched by universities and colleges in the USA, which measure between 3 to 6 metres in length.”