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As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars

Nandini Sircar, Sahim Salim and Juidin Bernarrd/Dubai
Filed on July 20, 2020 | Last updated on July 20, 2020 at 06.19 am
UAE mars mission, hope probe, Al Khawaneej, Tanegashima Space Centre

(Reuters)

UAE has made history as the #FirstArabicCountdown launched its Hope orbiter to space.

It was a new dawn when the whole nation erupted with joy and pride as the UAE's historic Mars mission was successfully launched at 1.58am local time to the first-ever Arabic countdown for a rocket.

An hour after the launch, with clockwork precision, the probe successfully separated from the launch vehicle and its solar panels deployed, launch operator Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Launch Services confirmed. Within minutes, the probe's telecom system was set up and it transmitted its first signal, which was received by the Mission Control team in Dubai's Al Khawaneej. (Complete coverage of UAE's mission to Mars).

Al Amal, or The Hope, weighing 1.3 tonnes was launched from the H-2A rocket from Japan's remote Tanegashima spaceport. The Dh735-million project is the first inter-planetary mission by any Arab nation, and product of six years of sweat and toil by 135 Emirati engineers, scientists and researchers.

Soon after its successful liftoff, there were tears of joy, with people beaming and clapping at Dubai's ground control room.


The UAE's Hope Probe lifted off from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre on an H-IIA F42 rocket at 1.58am UAE time - as it happened:


3:14am -UAE's Hope probe transmits its first signal from space orbit

The UAE's Hope probe has transmitted its first signal from space. This came after the spacecraft's solar panels were deployed to charge its batteries following its separation from the launch vehicle.


3:05am - Solar panels on Hope probe deployed to charge its batteries

The solar panels of the Hope Probe have been deployed. These panels will charge the batteries of the spacecraft for its 495,000,000km journey to Mars.


2:59am - UAE's Hope probe separates from rocket, moves into space orbit

The UAE's Hope probe to Mars has separated from its launch vehicle, its launch operator Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Launch Services has confirmed.


2:31am - Rocket carrying UAE's Mars probe 'on course'

Five minutes after launch, the rocket carrying the probe was on course, carrying out the first separation of its flight.

"Second stage rotation complete. In a few minutes, the launch vehicle will enter into Earth's shadow," the Hope Mars Mission team tweeted.


2: 11am - Video: Hope probe soars off to space

Here is a video of the launch that took the Hope probe to space. The H-IIA rocket carrying the 1.3-tonne probe took off at exactly 1.58am.


1: 57am:

Live from the MBRSC in Al Khwaneej with less than 1 hours to go for the historic launch


1: 54am: It is 4 minutes and 40 seconds before liftoff. The automatic countdown sequence has started.


1: 51am - #FirstArabicCountdown in minutes, can you hear it?

The weather is perfect, the Hope probe launch has received its final 'Go' command and the launch teams are all set for a smooth liftoff.

The Arab world is waiting with bated breath to hear the #FirstArabicCountdown that will launch Hope to space. Stay tuned to hear the historic countdown that will launch the Arab world's first interplanetary mission.


1: 38am - All systems 'Go' for Hope launch: Minutes left for #FirstArabicCountdown

The Hope probe launch team has received its final 'Go' command for the launch. "In 20 minutes, the first Arab interplanetary mission will launch on its epic journey to Mars. This is History in the making," the Hope Mars Mission team tweeted.

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24873720.PNG)


1: 35am - 30 minutes to launch: Can you hear the #FirstArabicCountdown?

Just 30 minutes left for the Hope probe to launch! Don't miss space history's #FirstArabicCountdown that will launch the Hope probe to space.

30 minutes to go before launch! #HopeMarsMission

- Hope Mars Mission (@HopeMarsMission) July 19, 2020


1:30am - Emirates Mars Mission Teams all set for lift-off

Emirates Mars Mission Teams in Japan and UAE are all set for the lift-off with just about 30 minutes to go.

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24872720.PNG)


1:17am - Perfect day for launch, says Hope Mars Mission team

The weather conditions around the Hope probe's launch pad in Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre are perfect for a launch, the Hope Mars Mission team has said. The probe is set to take off to Mars in under an hour.

MHI Launch Services, the operator of the rocket that will take Hope to space, said earlier: "The best weather condition for launch."


1:10am- It's a 'Go' for 1-hour countdown to Hope probe launch

The Hope probe launch team has got a 'Go' command for the 60-minute countdown. "The green light has been given to the X-60 minutes terminal countdown operation," the operator of the rocket that will take Hope to space said. "The best weather condition for launch. Waiting for the launch in the morning light," it added.


12:55am - For us, Hope mission is already a success: UAE minister

For the UAE, the Emirates Mars Mission is already a success, a UAE minister has said an hour before its launch from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre.

"We are very positive. We expect the unexpected, but for us it's already a success. We already have a wonderful team," said Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises.

He explained that the mission launch was delayed twice due to foul weather in Japan and not due to technical or logistical issues. "A space mission launch can be delayed due to three reasons: Technical, logistical or foul weather. With SpaceX, the rocket was about to launch but it was postponed due to a technical issue. The Russian-European mission (to Mars) was delayed by two years due to logistical issues caused by Covid-19. In our case, the delay was not due to technical or logistical issues, but purely due to weather-related ones," he explained.


12:50am - UAE has a core team that can work on more space missions: Minister

The UAE's primary mission is a create a "core team" that can work on future interplanetary missions, a UAE minister has said. "That's what we have achieved today," Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises, told Khaleej Times.

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24871720.PNG)

When asked about the UAE's future space plans, the minister said: "The global space community led by the US is looking at the moon as a stepping stone to Mars. Our focus is there, but we haven't decided yet. But we surely have the capabilities."


12:47am - Hope mission control team in Dubai all set for launch

The ground control team of the Hope probe at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre has completed all preparations for launch.

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24869720.PNG)


12: 30am - 100 minutes to go for Hope probe launch

Under 100 minutes are left for the Hope probe to blast off to space from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre.

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24870720.PNG)

"The second attitude control system flight slew test has been completed," the rocket operator, MHI Launch Services, tweeted.


Wednesday, 12:00am - Video: Journey of the UAE's Hope probe - announcement to launch and beyond

The UAE Government has shared a video which captures the Hope probe's journey from announcement to launch, journey and its scientific mission after reaching the Martian orbit.


11:55pm - When Sheikh Mohammed first announced Hope Mars Mission

The Hope Mars Mission team has shared a video which starts off with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, first announcing the Mars mission in 2014.

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24868719.PNG)

The video then shows the Hope probe's engineering process and the epic 83-hour journey that transported it from Dubai to its launch pad in Japan despite Covid-19-triggered border closures.


11: 30pm - Photos: Can you feel the excitement of Hope probe launch?

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24867719.PNG)

With just a couple of more hours to go for the Hope probe launch, the Mars mission control room in Dubai's Al Khawaneej is abuzz with excitement and anticipation. The launch at 1.58am would mark the Arab world's first interplanetary space mission.


11:20pm - Mars stares back at us from a clear sky: Hope probe team

The Hope Mars Mission team has posted photos showing the Hope probe rocket all set for launch against a clear night sky. It also posted a photo of Mars clearly visible in the sky.

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24864719.PNG)

"The Hope Probe is all set to start its journey, while its destination, Mars, stares back at us in a clear night sky," the team tweeted.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Launch Services, which will operate the launch vehicle, had tweeted the same photos earlier, saying the launch team can see Mars "well tonight".


11.11pm - Look: Abu Dhabi landmarks light up to celebrate launch

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24863719.PNG)

Landmarks in Abu Dhabi are putting up a stunning show to celebrate the launch of the UAE's Hope probe to Mars. The animation features countdown in both Arabic and English. For the first time in history, a countdown in Arabic will launch a space mission when Hope probe takes off at 1.58am.


11.05pm - Weather good so far, says Emirates Mars Mission manager

The weather conditions around the launch site of the Hope probe in Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre are "good so far", Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of the Emirates Mars Mission, has said. "We will keep monitoring and keeping an eye on the weather," he said.

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24862719.PNG)

Foul weather in Japan has delayed the launch of the probe twice. It is now scheduled to blast off to space at 1.58am.

Addressing journalists at the Hope Mars Mission control room in Dubai's Al Khawaneej, Sharaf explained that the mission has two teams: One in Japan and the other in Dubai.

"The team in Japan will make sure that the spacecraft is ready for launch. We have three sub-teams in Dubai taking care of things here. The first team is the operational one. The second team consists of engineers who check the status of the spacecraft system. The third team will be looking into data assessment and planning different scenarios based on it and providing it to the operations team."

The official explained that it will take about an hour for the probe to separate after launch. "Once that happens ... we will have the first signal from the spacecraft," said Sharaf.


10.41pm - Video: How Mars mission team will communicate with Hope probe

A short video tweeted by the Hope Mars Mission team shows Operations Software Developer Hamad Al Hazami explaining how the ground team will communicate with the Hope probe.


10.35pm - From working on UAE's first nanosatellite to helping launch Hope

The first space mission that young space scientist Fatma Lootah worked on was on Nayif1 - the UAE's first nanosatellite. Today she is Instrument Science Engineer with the Emirates Mars Mission and her primary job would be to monitor data from the Hope probe's Ultraviolet Spectrometer.

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24865719.PNG)

Talking about her journey to becoming a space scientist, the Emirati said she pursued chemical engineering in college. "We used to drive past the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and I used to be very curious about the kind of work they did. I mean, what's more exciting than space? That's how I got into this field," she said.


10.25pm - Team spent countless sleepless nights to beat Covid-19 challenges: Minister

The biggest challenge for the Emirates Mars Mission was Covid-19, a UAE minister has said. The team had to "work backwards" to ensure that the launch requirements were met.

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24858719.PNG)

Talking to journalists at the Hope Mars Mission control room in Dubai's Al Khawaneej, Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, said: "Covid-19 and the closure of borders did not affect the launch and the mission itself thanks to proper planning and the countless sleepless nights that the team spent."


10.01pm - Excited about this huge undertaking, says UAE minister

The UAE's Mars mission is a huge undertaking and there is a lot of excitement around its launch, a UAE minister has said.

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24857719.PNG)

Talking to journalists at the Hope Mars Mission control room in Dubai's Al Khawaneej, Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, said: "There are three countries aiming for Mars this year - the US, China and the UAE. Despite being the newcomer, the UAE's mission is at par with countries that actually have a legacy in the space sector. We are excited to see the outcomes with regards to the human capital of this programme. Everybody who has been a part of this programme has had great contributions to engineering and technology."


9.50pm - Inside Hope Mars Mission control room in Dubai

This is the Hope Mars Mission control room in Dubai's Al Khawaneej where 21 engineers from the UAE Space Agency and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre are stationed.

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24856719.PNG)

The ground station will guide the Hope probe towards the Red Planet and maintain its contact with Earth. The team will monitor Hope and take control of the probe - right from the moment it separates from its rocket an hour after its launch until it reaches the Martian orbit.

In the first 30 days, the engineers will be doing round-the-clock shifts to record every data the probe generates. The team will also ensure that the probe's solar panels capture enough energy to power its batteries for the 495,000,000km journey to Mars.


9.09pm - Burj Khalifa lights up with #FirstArabicCountdown

Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, has lit up with a countdown in Arabic to celebrate the launch of the UAE's Hope probe to Mars.

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24859719.PNG)

The stunning show on the world's largest LED screen featured a male voice doing the countdown in Arabic.

It then cuts into an animated video showing the rocket launch that will take Hope to space.


8.49pm- Hope probe launch team can see 'Mars well'

The Emirates Mars Mission launch team on the ground at Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre can see Mars "well tonight".

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Launch Services tweeted that the terminal countdown operation is proceeding smoothly as planned. A terminal countdown is a simulation of the final hours of a launch countdown.


8.39pm- Radio signals working fine

As it happened: UAE's Hope probe off to Mars (KT24860719.PNG)

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Launch Services that's operating the H-IIA F42 rocket has said that the radio frequency system between the rocket and the ground stations has been checked.


8.33pm - Hope probe's journey from Earth to Martian orbit explained

The Hope Mars Mission team has shared a video in which Mohsen Al Awadhi, mission systems engineer, explains how the Hope probe will reach its Martian orbit.

This is the brief explanation he gave: The launch vehicle from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre will take the probe to space. After separation, the Hope probe will be turned on for the first time. The team on the ground will hear the first signal soon after. The solar panels on the probe will be deployed and it will then look for the sun to charge its batteries. The seven-month journey to Mars then begins.



8.01pm - Rocket fully loaded with fuel
The tanks of the H-IIA F42 rocket that will take the Hope probe to space has been fully fuelled up, its operator has tweeted.


6.37pm - All devices working fine

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Launch Services that's operating the H-IIA F42 rocket has said that all devices for flight altitude control are working as expected.


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