Middle Eastern nations like the U.A.E. and Qatar are now investing petrodollars into various space projects to boost their national profiles and promote jobs and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education at all levels.
One prime example is Abu Dhabi, the owner 32 percent of Virgin Galactic through Aabar Investments. Abu Dhabi will receive exclusive regional rights for sub-orbital tourist and science research flights at a spaceport that Virgin agreed to build in the emirate.
There’s plenty of projects to choose from. Asteroid miner Deep Space Industries needs sponsors for the first trio of “Firefly” cubesats it will send to prospect nearby asteroids.
So does the non-profit B612 Foundation, which intends to build and launch the Sentinel infrared space telescope to find, map, and track asteroids that can possibly threaten humankind. And commercial manned space ventures like Bigelow Aerospace, Space Adventures, and Golden Spike double as an opportunity for countries to send astronauts into orbit and beyond at a faster and cheaper rate than national programs.
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