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Saudi Arabia Launches Space Authority

Saudi Arabia has inaugurated a Space Authority that will oversee the kingdom’s plans to explore the “final frontier.” Saudi state media reported that the organization would “work with international space institutions and agencies to train astronauts and specialist workers, expand in the fields of satellite manufacturing and operation, and provide the scientific, legislative and technical environment needed to ensure that the maximum benefits are derived from the opportunities offered by space.” The move has raised concerns over the possibility that the Sunni Gulf state could attempt to develop so-called dual-use technologies that can be employed to launch satellites into orbit and develop ballistic missiles. Riyadh has repeatedly vowed to match the nuclear capabilities of archrival Shi’ite Iran, and reports last year claimed that the Trump Administration was pushing to provide the kingdom with related technologies in addition to building nuclear-powered plants therein.