First look: UAE spacecraft named after Sheikh Mohammed that will travel 5-billion-km

The ‘Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt’ will see the MBR Explorer explore seven asteroids before ultimately touching down on Justitia in 2034

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A Staff Reporter

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Image courtesy: Screengrab from video shared by the UAE Space Agency
Image courtesy: Screengrab from video shared by the UAE Space Agency

Published: Mon 29 May 2023, 3:14 PM

The UAE has embarked on a 13-year project that will see it land a spacecraft on an asteroid billions of kilometres away from Earth. It’s aptly named after the man who does not believe in the word ‘impossible’ — His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The ‘Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt’ will see the MBR Explorer explore seven asteroids before ultimately touching down on Justitia in 2034.


These are the first images of the explorer:

Photos: Dubai Media Office/Twitter
Photos: Dubai Media Office/Twitter

Here’s a closer look at the spacecraft and its key features:


The spacecraft will explore the origins of asteroid Justitia. It will seek to answer these questions:

  • Did it migrate from the Kuiper belt?
  • Why is it unusually ultra-red?

The mission will offer new insights into the solar system:

  • Understanding the source of Earth's water
  • Studying the origin and evolution of water-rich bodies
  • Evaluating the potential of asteroids as a resource for future missions.

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