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Oman to build the first spaceport in the Middle East

Rocket launche [Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images]
Rocket launche [Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images]

Oman is planning to build the region's first space rocket launch centre this year, reports The National. The Etlaq Space Launch Complex will be based in the port town of Duqm, with the three-year construction project overseen by the Sultanate's National Aerospace Services Company (Nascom).

The space rocket launch platform will be used to promote scientific research and to promote international collaboration in the space sector.

"We have two main goals with the Duqm launch land: to build a launch centre for commercial, professional and educational rocket users to assemble, test and launch from," Nascom said.

"The launch centre will be globally accessible for expanding rocket companies, and locally available for educational research programmes."

According to the report, Duqm's equatorial positioning makes it an ideal spot for launches, as rockets can take advantage of the Earth's rotational speeds.

READ: Russia, Iran companies sign memorandums on space launch services

"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," the Company 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 increase in importance over the next two decades as global industries look for solutions in space."

The project to establish a space research centre in the country was first announced in September of last year, and follows similar ambitions of regional trailblazer, the UAE, which had plans to build a Mars simulation city in 2017, although the plans stalled as the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre was trying to secure land.

Muscat's ambitions to emulate the UAE's success in space faced a set-back earlier this month, when a rocket carrying the Sultanate's first ever satellite failed to reach its orbit.  The Aman satellite was launched from Britain's Spaceport, Cornwall; however, the system experienced an unspecified "anomaly, ending the mission prematurely", according to Virgin Orbit whose "LauncherOne" rocket was used for the launch.

READ: Meet the first Egyptian, Arab female to blast into space

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