The Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology intends to launch the first Iraqi experimental satellite before the end of next year, in collaboration with an Italian university.
The ministry said the satellite will be used for educational and research purposes.
Sameer al-Attar, senior undersecretary at the Ministry, told Mawtani that this project "is part of a joint programme for scientific and academic co-operation between our ministry and the Italian side, represented by La Svanza University."
Al-Attar said that under this programme, launched at the beginning of July, 15 specialised engineers from the ministries of Science, Higher Education and Transport will participate in a scholarship programme to obtain a Master’s degree in Space Science from La Svanza.
"The engineers will receive theoretical lessons on satellite technology over a period of 14 months, culminating in the practical side of the programme, when they will design and manufacture the first Iraqi experimental satellite, carrying the name 'Dijlah'," he added.
Al-Attar said the Italian university "has pledged financial support, in addition to providing all the technical and scientific expertise needed for the Iraqi engineers to complete the project and launch the satellite before the end of next year".
Launching the Dijlah satellite "will represent the first step for Iraq on the path to build an integrated satellite with more advanced specifications in the future, using strictly national efforts", he added.
The satellite "will allow us [...] to have access to important satellite data that can be used in several areas such as agricultural research, management of natural resources, ground and climatic studies as well as its various uses in the digital communications sector", al-Attar said.
Amer Abdul Ahad, General Director of the Ministry's Department of Space Technology and Telecommunications, said, "the Iraqi engineers and their Italian peers will complete work on the Dijlah satellite by July of next year, with the hope that it can be launched into space by November of the same year."
"The satellite will fly at a low space orbit at an altitude ranging between 600 to 800 kilometres, while its lifespan will last about two years," Abdul Ahad told Mawtani.
"The satellite will only be used for educational purposes and experimental research in the field of space technology, and will help increase the technical skills of our specialised staffs and enable them to build a specialized local satellite with advanced capabilities and usages," he said.
"There are also consultations with our Italian partners to study the possibility of installing certain scientific equipment and devices on the Dijlah satellite, such as earth-imaging cameras, sensors for atmospheric gases, and digital communications system on a limited geographic scope," he added.
Abdul Ahad said the Ministry, by embarking on this step, "seeks to uplift the status of space studies and promote the education and culture of space studies in Iraq, to keep pace with technological progress witnessed by the world in this sector".
"The academic co-operation programme with the Italian university will continue even after the completion of the project as we need to acquire scientific and practical experience, which will enable us to achieve the required progress in such vital sectors," he added.
Wahda al-Jumaily, a member of the parliament's services and reconstruction committee, welcomed the Ministry of Science and Technology's efforts to build and launch the Dijlah satellite.
"I consider this project a brave and bold gesture by the ministry, particularly since we have scientific capabilities and highly educated minds that allow us to accomplish it," she told Mawtani. "However, we need the assistance of developed countries so we can strongly enter into the field of space technology."
"The Dijlah satellite, albeit with limited technical potential that does not compare with global specialised satellites, still represents a major turning point in the course of Iraq's efforts towards progress in this field" al-Jumaily added.