Sabah signs MoU to study feasibility of space launch site in state

Datuk Hajiji Noor (centre, back) witnessing the MoU signing between Sovereign Sengalang Sdn Bhd managing director Mohd Ezra Effendi (left), Sabah Science Technology and Innovation Ministry permanent secretary Datuk Zainudin Aman (centre, front) and Ukraine embassy’s Charge d’ Affaires ad interim Denys MyKhailiuk. — Photo courtesy of Sabah Chief Minister’s Department

KOTA KINABALU (June 24): The Sabah government last night signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Ukrainian and a local firm to study the feasibility of a space launch facility in the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor said that Sabah is looking forward to positive results from the study in order to put the state on the map of high-level aerospace technology globally as the 16th of such a facility in the world.

“The MoU comes at the right time as the state is trying to move into the science, technology, and innovation economy. Malaysia, through Sabah has the potential to be the ninth space-faring country in the world with such a facility.

“The construction of a space launch facility, if indications are positive, will also be able to spawn an industry of between 300 to 500 downstream companies of building, electronics and logistics. We are also looking at potentially 90 high-paying jobs and over 5,000 general job opportunities in Sabah,” he said.

He said this during his speech last night at the state’s science awards ceremony.

Hajiji said that the launch site of the Cyclone 7 commercial spacecraft launching could also stand to be a new phase in the state’s tourism sector.

The state could also stand to get a return of some 20 per cent on each launch of a space vessel which is expected to be worth around RM200 million a year.

Earlier, Hajiji witnessed the signing ceremony between the state’s Science Technology and Innovation Ministry, represented by its permanent secretary Datuk Zainudin Aman, Sovereign Sengalang Sdn Bhd managing director Mohd Ezra Effendi and Yuzhnoye State Design Office represented by the Ukraine embassy’s Charge d’ Affaires ad interim Denys MyKhailiuk.

Hajiji said that the feasibility study was still in its early stage and would take between six months and a year to complete. He said that the location would be determined later but it was previously reported that the east coast district of Tawau has been identified as suitable for the project.

It was also previously reported that Sabah was proposed for this project due to its strategic location on the equator which is on the Maximum Straight Linear Velocity line that can reduce costs or add loads up to 20 per cent per launch vessel.

Mykhailiuk reiterated the benefits and said that Sabah was a “wonderful location” for such an endeavour.

“We chose Sabah as a partner cos it’s one of the closest to the equator zones. The launches from here are much more efficient than from zones which are closer to the poles. It will take less effort, and be more efficient. It will also bring more payload to the space for less money. We hope it will be more beneficial not only for safety purposes, but also financially,” he said.

He also said that Ukraine, as a pioneer in the space travel industry, was looking forward to sharing its expertise in the aerospace industry with Malaysia and specifically Sabah, if the feasibility study worked out well.

He said that Sabah would stand to benefit from the space launch site, being one of only 16th such sites in the world, and joining the ranks of only 8th other space-faring countries if the project did actualise.

“We hope it will come true. The technology is quite developed already. You have significant resources and a wonderful location and we have the expertise.

“There is also a strong growing demand for space apparatus, for satellite, not only for purposes of geolocation but also for distance exploration of the earth like finding better places for natural resources extraction, and better ways of agriculture. There are vast applications for it,” he said.

He also said that space exploration was an exceptional way of building bilateral relations and that the country is working on a visa-free scheme for more travel between citizens of both countries as well as delving into the food and fruit supply trade. — Malay Mail

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