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KT Explains: Why has the UAE’s Hope Mars mission been rescheduled?

Staff Report
Filed on July 15, 2020 | Last updated on July 15, 2020 at 06.21 am
hope probe, UAE mission to mars, japan, Tanegashima Space Centre

Another evaluation will be conducted five hours before the new launch time, and once again an hour before liftoff.

A two-day delay in launching the UAE's Hope probe to Mars has been attributed to storm clouds that rolled in around the launch pad ahead of the scheduled liftoff.

The probe was to have launched at 00:51 on July 15, but is now scheduled to take off at 00:43 on July 17 from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre. Another evaluation will be conducted five hours before the new launch time, and once again an hour before liftoff.

"The two-day delay came after the launch team in Japan and the UAE's control room team held a meeting with the team in charge of the launch site on Japan's Tanegashima Island. The mission was given a no-go following a weather evaluation," the Hope probe team said.

Complete coverage of UAE's mission to Mars

Weather watch

Weather plays a central role in ensuring a safe rocket launch to space due to its impact on the upper atmosphere. According to weather forecasts, heavy rainstorms are expected to continue in southern and central Japan.

Since July 4, Japan has been reeling under devastating rains and flooding, mainly in the southwestern-most island of Kyushu. Heavy rains have been reported from central mainland as well.

Launch window

The new liftoff, scheduled on July 17, 2020, meets the launch window that extends until August 3, 2020. The launch window has been set after careful study of the Earth and Mars orbits to ensure the Hope probe arrives in the shortest period of time consuming the least levels of energy.

The delay of Mars space missions is commonly caused by unsuitable weather conditions and technical issues.

Delayed missions

Nasa had earlier postponed the launch of its Mars Perseverance rover three times. The mission was initially scheduled to launch on July 17 before it was delayed to July 20 and again to July 22 due to technical issues. The rover is scheduled to reach Mars in February 2021, with Nasa's experts announcing the possibility of postponing the mission to the autumn of 2022 if the rover was not given the go before the launch window closes mid-August.

Earlier in March 2020, the European Space Agency and its Russian counterpart Roscosmos Space Corporation decided to postpone the launch of the ExoMars mission to study the Red Planet to 2022 due to multiple technical issues.

The American SpaceX has also postponed its 10th batch of Starlink communication satellites on its Falcon 9 rocket three times. The rocket was initially scheduled to carry 57 satellites to operate in the Earth orbit on June 26, 2020, before it was postponed to July 8 for further pre-flight checks. A second delay to July 11 was caused by the weather, while yet another was caused by rocket checks.

sahim@khaleejtimes.com



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