Space Settlement Challenge: 36 projects win funding

Mohammad Bin Rashid Centre for Accelerated Research extends direct funding to winning ideas

Dubai: A total of 36 winning projects in the first Space Settlement Challenge have received their funding and will soon be able to explore ways of putting their research to work, it was announced.


The projects received direct funding through the Dubai Future Foundation’s new think tank, The Mohammad Bin Rashid Centre for Accelerated Research (MBRCAR).

The Space Settlement Challenge was launched at the 6th World Government Summit in February 2018, with the objective of accelerating space exploration activities by funding trailblazing research.

The challenge called for research proposals from any discipline, in pursuit of concepts, solutions and business models that facilitate space habitation.

The centre, dedicated to accelerating the process of scientific research and supporting disruptive thinking on the world’s most important topics, received over 260 research proposals from more than 200 leading universities in 55 countries globally.

Proposals included topics ranging from advanced bio-engineering for life support on Mars to the social and economic business models required to make the space industry a success.

Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation, emphasized the foundation’s commitment to adopt and enhance scientific research, innovation and spatial programmes.

“We are happy with the results of the challenge and the calibre of participations. We anticipate that the funded researches will have positive impact not only on residents of the UAE but on human kind and on the global race to the space,” said Belhoul.

“Through this challenge, MBRCAR contributes to building knowledge based economy in the UAE and support both the UAE Mars City and the Mars 2117 Project.”

The challenge, in line with the UAE ambitious vision, aims to place the country among the top countries worldwide in the field of space technology and exploration, the centre said. It will also help in establishing the space technology sector as a key economic sector for years to come.

The projects

Some of the 36 funded projects included: ‘The Sustainable Space Settlement: Stability Analysis of Lava Tubes’ by the Purdue University, a world-renowned, public research university that advances discoveries in science, technology, engineering and math, the ‘Mushrooms on Mars: A Subsystem for Human Life Support’ by Rutgers University, a leading national research university and the state of New Jersey’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education and the ‘Greywater based aeroponics’ by the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, a technological university in Wroclaw, Poland.

The evaluation process for the challenge was conducted in two phases and anonymously in which applicants reviewed each other’s proposals (peer review), making them part of the committee.

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