An exciting moment in Emirati history was conceived just before 2am this morning, as the nation’s first interplanetary mission commenced its journey to Mars. Set atop a Japanese H-IIA rocket, the UAE‘s Hope Probe was jettisoned out of the Tanegashima spaceport in Japan, much to the delight of onlookers around the world, and is now on an almost 500 million kilometer journey through outer space. While initially scheduled to take flight last week, plans for the Hope Probe were postponed in light of adverse weather. Now well on its way, the homegrown probe has begun transmitting its first signals home to Dubai via Nasa’s deep-space network. In a journey that will take over seven months to complete, the Hope Probe will travel at speeds of up to 120,000kph on its monumental journey to Mars.
Referencing the power of the mission, Hussein Al Hammadi, the Minister of Education said,”[The Hope Probe] is the UAE’s gift to the world, and proves the capabilities of the Emirati and Arab world to fulfill great achievements.” Created with the purpose of studying Mars’ atmosphere, particularly within the context of weather and chemical properties, The Mars mission also fulfils an early ambition of the UAE’s Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Having welcomed the Apollo 17 astronauts, Gene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmitt to Abu Dhabi in 1976, Sheikh Zayed had often expressed a desire to, one day, traverse space. Speaking to this dream in regard to the launch, Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq, said: “On this day, we are living through a historic moment in the Arab world and a dream that belonged to the Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed.”
With more than half of all Mars missions failing prematurely, the Hope Probe undoubtedly faces a challenging journey ahead with myriad obstacles along the way. Among them, are issues of radiation, temperature, fuel, and electricity. Aiming to enter Martian orbit next year, the Probe will stay in space for a full Martian year, or 687 Earth days.