ASPACE, a Hong Kong-based satellite manufacturer, is laying groundwork for a future aerospace industry in Saudi Arabia. The company announced this week that the kingdom had invested 1B Saudi riyals ($266.6M) to help it develop advanced satellite technology domestically.
“This investment represents a significant stride in augmenting the Kingdom’s competitiveness and establishing it as a regional hub for magnetizing space investments as well as cutting-edge technologies in this rapidly growing sector,” said Abdullah Al-Swaha, chairman of the Saudi space agency.
The agreement: Saudi Arabia is hoping to use ASPACE, a subsidiary of Hong Kong Aerospace Technology Group (HKATG) that operates a satellite manufacturing facility in Hong Kong, as a jumping-off point to establish a domestic aerospace company in the future.
“We will have to jointly develop the company with the Saudi government for the next stage,” Sun Fengquan, ASPACE’s co-chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
Middle East spacebound: Saudi Arabia and its neighbor, the UAE, have each been trying to get their foot in the door of the global aerospace market.
- Both countries have partnered with Axiom Space to send private astronauts to the ISS.
- Saudi Arabia launched its first satellite built in partnership with Lockheed Martin in 2019, a year after establishing its space agency.
The UAE is taking the long view when it comes to ambitious deep space missions, but Saudi Arabia is in a rush, hoping to put Saudi boots on the lunar surface by 2030. Politics are making that complicated—Saudi Arabia has signed onto the US-led Artemis Accords, but is also reportedly exploring lunar partnerships with China and Russia.