United Arab Emirates launches mission to Mars
By Gloria Tso | 20 July 2020
The United Arab Emirates launched its first mission to Mars on Monday (July 20).
It’s an effort to develop the UAE’s science and technology and reduce its reliance on oil.
The Hope Probe blasted off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center at 6:58 local time for a seven-month journey to the red planet.
There, the $200 million mission is expected to orbit and send back data about the atmosphere.
Just over an hour after launch, the probe deployed solar panels to power its systems and established communication with the mission on earth.
The UAE first announced plans for its mission in 2014, and launched a National Space Programme in 2017 to develop local expertise.
The country’s population of some 9.4 million, most of whom are foreign workers, lacks the scientific and industrial base of the big spacefaring nations.
But UAE Space Agency Director Dr. Mohammed Alahbabi says Monday’s launch is just the beginning.
“UAE now is a member of the club. We will learn more, and we will engage more, and we will continue developing our space exploration program.”
There are currently eight active missions exploring Mars; some orbit the planet, while some have landed on its surface.
China and the United States each plan to send another this year.
By Gloria Tso