Emirati vision, Indian ingenuity
Lofty ambitions and down to earth ideas are an ideal combination.
Mars spells ambition for the UAE that is relishing the prospect of colonising the Red Planet in hundred years. Across the seas, in India, this ambition met affordability on Wednesday with the launch of a record 104 satellites using the workhorse rocket, the PSLV. Among them was a nanosatellite developed by Emirati students, aptly named Nayif-1, which means 'towering' in Arabic.
Lofty ambitions and down to earth ideas are an ideal combination. Emirati innovation and Indian ingenuity are a perfect fit which could signal the beginning of a long and lasting partnership between them for future missions. In fact, agreements on space cooperation between the two sides were signed during state visits by leaders of the two countries.
The UAE plans to send a probe to Mars by 2021. An Indian satellite, Mangalyaan, is already orbiting the planet. Another is headed to the Moon next year even as the country's space agency sets its sights on Venus. There's no shortage of ambition there, too, but the trick is to keep costs low as we fall under the spatial spell.
Commercial space launches are now much cheaper than Hollywood sci-fi movies as India's missions have shown. In fact, the Indian Mars Orbiter Mission in 2013 cost less ($74 million) than the movie Gravity ($100 million) that was released the same year.
Space is not a hardsell for UAE's ambitions anymore. A slice of life on planets is not a distant dream. It's now soft reality, for a fraction of the cost and a load of determination, as Mars 2117 shows.
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