The United Arab Emirates (UAE) formed its space agency in 2014 and is already speaking about a space mission that would send a probe to the Red Planet by 2020. Director General of the UAE Space Agency, Mohammed Al Ahbabi, spoke at the Dubai Airshow on Tuesday about sending a probe to Mars, and that the “first ever Arabic and Islamic space mission was intended to educate and inspire,” as per quoted by CNBC.
So, could the UAE possibly be sending a probe to Mars that soon?
The “Hope” probe would launch from Earth in 2020, and land on Mars by 2021, which is just in time to commemorate the 50th anniversary since seven emirates formed the UAE.
“We have national objectives to inspire young people and provide confidence in our people, to show it is possible,” Al Ahbabi said. “But also to team up with the international science community and gain from a technology transfer.”
Al Ahbabi added that the mission still meets the time and budget requirements despite the political difficulties in the region. When the probe would be launched to the red planet, it would travel about 40 million miles over nine months until it lands on Mars to study the Martian atmosphere and climate. The mission is backed by the UAE space agency, which was originally formed in July 2014, and has, until now, secured a reported $5.2 billion in public and private support. Also, he said that the UAE is collaborating with the support of more than 20 space agencies worldwide, predicting that the only three outstanding agencies would come on board next year.
“So many people are coming to the UAE to express admiration for what we are trying to do,” he said.
The Middle East is considered a good location for the launch of the missiles, as a result of milder weather conditions, open desert spaces, while being near the equator, which means launching missiles into orbit requires less thrust. Al Ahbabi believes that the UAE space program would restore a “lost Arabic trait of understanding the galaxy.”
“This region, 600 or 700 years ago was the base of astronomy. Two-thirds of the stars that we can see with our naked eyes have Arabic or Islamic names,” he said.
“Unfortunately there was decline, but now through this big project we want to send a message to the people that it is still possible to study space.”
The UAE sending a probe to Mars sounds more than exciting, but we will see whether it will come to pass within the next three years.