Bassam Alfeeli and Nada AlShammari are business partners of Orbital Space, a start-up that offers students and technology enthusiasts the opportunity to develop and test software code on satellites in space, via their ground station at Dubai Silicon Oasis.
Convergence of arts and sciences in space
After completing his engineering studies in the United States, Bassam returned to Dubai and witnessed the launch of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center and the United Arab Emirates Space Agency. This inspired him to pursue his long-awaited dream of participating in space missions, and he created Orbital Space with Nada. Nada is an educator and she believes that the convergence of arts and sciences will work together to innovate in the space sector.
For their first mission in space, the two combined their experiences and developed a unique concept. “We decided to create competitions, and it was open to all students who wanted to propose a scientific experiment that was going to be sent into space,” Bassam told Euronews.
The E. coli study was the starting point
They decided on a project that proposed to study the behavior of a genetically modified E. coli bacterium in space. They worked with the students for a year and eventually sent the payload to the International Space Station. “This experience has been really wonderful for the students and a successful starting point for us to think about what else is possible,” Nada said.
In 2021, Orbital Space sent a CubeSat, a miniature square-shaped satellite, into space. Later, they built a ground station at Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus where they receive signals from this satellite. “The ground station allows students to develop, propose and submit software code to the satellite,” Nada explains.
With the support of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center and the Dubai Silicon Oasis, Orbital Space is now planning its next interactions with space. “Our next missions will be to the moon,” Bassam added.