Muscat: Oman plans to build the Middle East’s maiden space rocket launch center this year. The Etlaq Space Launch Complex in the Port city of Duqm, is a project by National Aerospace Services Company, could launch its first rocket early next year.
The launch center will be globally accessible for expanding rocket companies and available locally for education and research programs.
Oman’s spaceport plans could give a significant boost to the region’s space programmes, as private companies such as Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin and government agencies could use the pad for orbital launches.
Oman’s First Suborbital Launch
NASCOM has also expressed a keenness to build the first Oman suborbital rocket to launch from the complex. “Rockets will inspire young people to pursue science and technology and will set the standard for future generations to match and exceed,” the company said. Plans to develop a rocket with a hybrid solid engines. “The solid fuels we tested are much safer and more environmentally friendly than the fuels used in liquid engines,” NASCOM stated. “The scale of the rocket we are developing ranges from 3 to 6 meters in length and is comparable to the suborbital rockets launched by US universities.”
Why Choose Duqm?
The port’s equatorial positioning makes it an ideal spot for launches, as the rocket can take advantage of the Earth’s rotational speeds.
“Internationally verified studies have identified that Wilayat Al-Duqm’s equatorial positioning places it in the top 5 most efficient rocket launch latitudes in the world,” Nascom said.
“Considering the data, and our own site analysis, we acknowledge the location as an important national asset for Oman which must be developed.
“A national asset as such will continue to rise in importance over the next two decades as global industries look for various aerospace solutions.”
The Duqm Port opened in February as part of Oman’s efforts to diversify its economy and expand its infrastructure. It was developed in partnership with the Belgium’s Port of Antwerp and received major investment from China and Korea.