ABU DHABI, May 25 (Xinhua) -- The United Arab Emirates on Monday kicked off a strategic framework for its newly founded space agency that aims to launch satellite missions and the "first Arab unmanned probe" to Mars by 2021.
The launch of the strategy comes ahead of a two-day Gulf Space and Satellite Forum, which starts here on Monday.
The UAE agency has scheduled total direct investments of 20 billion dirham (5.45 billion U.S. dollars).
Setting up the Gulf Arab state's official body to explore the orbit was in line with the government's policy to invest in talent and science, to diversify the economy and to boost research and innovation in the UAE, a major oil supplier, the agency's officials said.
Having already sent two satellites into space, the UAE plans to send the third home-made satellite, Khalifa Sat, named after President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, by 2017.
The UAE's first observation satellite was brought into space in July 2009.
The UAE space agency, based in Abu Dhabim works closely with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Center in Dubai, which was launched in April this year.
A strategic objective of the agency is to establish a space facility in the UAE desert from where vehicles carrying satellites and probes could be launched into orbit.