UAE Mars probe to be launched this summer
It will orbit the Red Planet and send back critical data about the Martian atmosphere.
UAE leaders have signed the last remaining piece of the Mars probe that the country is sending to the Red Planet this summer.
The outer piece of the probe, called Hope, was signed on Sunday by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
"Today, my brother Mohamed bin Zayed and I have signed the last piece of the outer body of the Hope Probe," Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.
"It's the first Arabic and Islamic probe that will reach Mars. On the last piece of the probe, we wrote 'the power of Hope shortens the distance between land and sky' to send a message to Arab youth that we can succeed and compete and we should never lose hope because the power of hope can move mountains."
Sheikh Mohamed also tweeted: "With great optimism, my brother Mohammed bin Rashid and I today signed a piece of the Hope Probe, which will be launched to Mars in July. Buoyed by the determination of our youth, we are proceeding with our space programme to serve science and humanity."
Hope is part of the Emirates Mars Mission, which is being carried out by the team at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). It will orbit the Red Planet and send back critical data about the Martian atmosphere.
The aim is to launch it within a narrow window that is available from July 14 to August 3 from the Tanegashima Space Centre using Japan's H-IIA rocket. The MBRSC hopes to successfully reach Mars' orbit in 2021 to coincide with the UAE's golden jubilee.
It's a historic mission for the region as it will make the UAE the first Arab country to reach another planet.
Hope will be in the UAE soon
Hope will be brought to Dubai soon from the US, where it has been built by a team of 150 Emirati engineers and researchers in partnership with three American institutions, including the University of Colorado-Boulder, the University of Arizona, and the University of California, Berkeley.
The spacecraft is currently at the University of Colorado and the last remaining piece which the UAE leaders signed will be sent to the US so it can be assembled.
The completed spacecraft will then be brought to Dubai for a short stay before it is shipped to Tanegashima in July for the launch.
This would be the second time the MBRSC is using Japan's HII-A rocket for a launch. In October 2018, the UAE's first 100 per cent Emirati-built satellite, KhalifaSat, was launched using this delivery vehicle.
Japan's rocket will deliver Hope - also called 'Al Amal' in Arabic - to Earth's orbit before it separates and makes its way to Mars' orbit on its own in a seven-month-long journey.
Japan gears up for Hope liftoff
Khaleej Times was at Tanegashima Space Centre in December and spoke to the director, who hopes that their new and advanced H3 rocket will be ready in time for the UAE's future launches.
"I think the UAE space industry is making great progress. We hope we could support this development. Tanegashima Space Centre is now developing the new rocket named H3. The concept of H3 is high reliability, flexibility and low price. Personally, I hope to launch the UAE satellite with H3 rocket in the future," Michio Kawakami, the director of the space centre, told KT.
"We are launching the UAE's Mars probe from the centre. The vision to go to Mars is fantastic and I'm very impressed by that. We also have an orbiter called 'Hope' in space.
"That is the name of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), called Kibo, which means hope in Japanese. I wish the EMM mission great success and we will do the best for the success of its launch." Since the first launch in 1968, a total of 174 rockets have been launched from the centre.