Space tourism is coming to the Middle East, as Abu Dhabi-based Aabar investments announced today it has taken a $280 million, 32 percent stake in Virgin Galactic. As part of the deal, which is still pending regulatory approval, Aabar plans to build a spaceport in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and will have rights to all Virgin Galactic traffic in that region. Aabar is also setting aside $100 million to build a small satellite launching facility, suggesting that the team plans to use the spaceport as a base for scientific research as well as space tourism.
The United Arab Emirates plans what would be the first sustainable zero carbon city
By Matt RansfordPosted 03.04.2008 at 2:59 pm 4 Comments
The United Arab Emirates is a small federation of seven states on the southern end of the Persian Gulf. Its reserves of oil and natural gas have allowed the nation to prosper economically. In recent years, the country has seen a boom in massive constructions: The world's tallest skyscraper is scheduled to be completed in late 2008. Other superlatives include the world's largest mall, an indoor ski slope and a series of man-made islands off the coast made from dredging hundreds of millions of tons of sand from the Gulf's bottom.
The good news: Engineers have developed neat little robots that ride camels. The great news: Child jockeys are being phased out of the Middle East's racing industry. Launch Photo Gallery
By Megan MillerPosted 06.22.2006 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
Camel racing has long been popular in the Middle East, but the sport has come under scrutiny for its practice of employing little boys as jockeys. Many of these children were kidnapped or otherwise illegally brought into employment in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates from foreign countries, including Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Faced with pressure from human-rights groups, Qatar has outlawed the practice of hiring child jockeys and passed a law requiring all riders to be at least 18 years of age.
For Peter Diamandis, boring old space just isnt good enough anymore. After his foundations X Prize competition resulted in the first non-government manned space mission in world history, Diamandis apparently needs more.
Last week, the X Prize Foundation released the draft rules governing its new $2 million Lunar Lander Challenge. The competition has been designed to simulate the demands of a lunar voyage, including a landing and return flight. The rules for the most demanding of the two contest divisions call for a rocket-powered craft to take off, maintain a steady altitude for 180 seconds, then land at a second point simulating the lunar surface no less than 100 meters away. Teams will then have 30 minutes to refuel their craft before launching it again from the landing point, flying it for another 180 seconds before landing it at the initial launch area.
Since Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt pulled in the ladder on Apollo 17 in 1972, only a handful of spacecraft have touched down on the moons surface—none of them carrying human passengers. And while the competition rules do not call for living cargo, a privately-funded trip to the moon is slowly beginning to sound less like the ravings of 1950s pulp science fiction and more like an attainable reality. (Since PopSci last covered Space Adventures CEO Eric Andersons lunar tourism dreams, his company has announced plans to build private spaceports in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates).
The competition is scheduled to go down before the end of the year. So those readers with any spare liquid-burning rocket motors or Lunar Lander mock-ups laying around in the garage, nows the time to dust them off and get to work. Check out the rules here. —John Mahoney
By Carl HoffmanPosted 04.12.2004 at 3:00 pm 0 Comments
What: The largest man-made offshore islands
Where: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Cost: $3.5 billion
Crux: Two islands built in the shape of giant palm trees. The “trunks” are 5 miles long, each topped by 17 “fronds” up to 330 feet long. A third island group is shaped like a flat map of the globe. Materials: 4.2 billion cubic feet of dredged sand and 50 million tons of rock.