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Japan's rains expected to clear up in time for UAE's Mars probe launch

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on July 7, 2020 | Last updated on July 7, 2020 at 06.42 am

(Hope Mars Mission/Twitter)

Launch window lasts until August 3 and if missed, the next available opportunity will be after two years.

The Emirates Mars Mission's launch team is hopeful that weather won't impede the takeoff of UAE's Mars spacecraft - Hope Probe - on July 15.

"We expect the rainy season to be ending in a few days in Tanegashima, the launch site," said Suhail Al Dhafri, deputy project manager of the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), during a virtual media briefing on Monday. Heavy rains and landslides last week struck the otherwise humid island city of Tanegashima.

Officials from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) also averred that several weather checks will be carried out regularly ahead of the launch date and an hourly check on the main day is high on the agenda, as that will decide the status of the liftoff.

The launch window of Hope Probe lasts until August 3 and if missed, the next available opportunity will only be after two years. 

EMM team multi-tasking

Meanwhile, senior engineers from different divisions of the launch team in Japan explained on how they are responsible for multi-tasking ahead of the historic day.

Team leads in charge of integration and testing, thermal subsystem, spacecraft communication subsystem, mechanical subsystem, mechanical manufacturing unit, electrical subsystem and mechanical engineer EMM team shed light on their tasks.

Al Dhafri said: "Previously, we had planned for 30 engineers who would come and go according to their job tasks. But today, we only have eight engineers who are responsible for multi-tasking."

He added: "Before we started assigning the team, they went over the procedures and understanding each task closely. For example someone who is a mechanical engineer started learning about fuelling techniques and the task overview was his job."

Others in the team are designated to perform checks and balances pertaining to several electrical testing.

Al Dhafri pointed out: "A few engineers are checking on the battery and solar panels. But we also require them to be with electrical ground support equipment (EGSE), which is another job added to their task list. These are examples of how we did multi-tasking and divided our work."

Covid-19 not an impediment

Al Dhafri underlined: "By our strength and working together, coronavirus is not an obstacle that's going to stop us. I think this is a challenge that brought us together and let us find new ways and solutions. So the key thing is how we can tackle these challenges and find solutions."

The eight engineers at the launch site include Suhail Al Dhafri; Omar Al Shehhi, Integration and Testing Lead; Yousuf Al Shahi, Thermal Subsystem Lead; Khalifa Al Mheiri, Spacecraft Communication Subsystem Lead; Mahmood Al Awadhi, Mechanical Subsystem Lead; Ahmed Al Yammahi, Senior Engineer, Mechanical Manufacturing Unit; Essa Al Mehairi, Electrical Subsystem Lead, and Mohammed Al Amri, Mechanical Engineer EMM team.

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