UAE’s Mars Mission: Emirates on the Red Planet by 2020

UAE is a major player in the field of space exploration and is now concentrating on Mars exploration with hope to one day bring life to another world.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the current prime minister and vice president of the Emirates, has launched the UAE Space Agency plan in Abu Dhabi in 2015 that laid out the strategic framework of a series of projects to push the human exploration of Mars in the years to come. He decided to build a space agency that will have the task of preparing the launch of the first spacecraft of the United Arab Emirates to Mars.

This endeavor, will be improving and maximizing the contribution of the aerospace industry to the national economy, said Dr Khalifa Al Rumaithi, chairman of the UAE Space Agency. The expected date for the Mars mission is set for 2021, which celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the state.

Looking ahead, the UAE is fast establishing itself as the Arab world’s leader in the space sector. UAE is taking the lead and is eager to collaborate to projects aimed at promoting international cooperation to advance and develop space science and technology.

Lately, there has been increased activities in the space sector with various space-related projects, including the Mars Mission and plans for space tourism, Dr Khalifa Al Rumaithi, told at the Global Space Congress in Abu Dhabi, organized by the UAE Space Agency, from 31st January to 1st February 2017. The event gathered global space industry leaders who discussed the future of the space economy and revealed the latest in space technologies with investments and funds to this promising business sector.

At the two-day congress, H.E Yosouf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), told about the center having submitted a request to the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) to host the 71st session of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), which will be held in 2020, in coordination with the UAE Space Agency (that gained membership of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group in 2015, making the UAE the first Arab country to join). “If we were to win, the UAE would become the first Arab and Muslim country to host the conference,” Al Shaibani said. “IAC is one of the most important conferences in the world addressing space affairs and issuing influential recommendations for the global space sector,” he added.

Al Shaibani noted that: “[I]n a few years from now, the UAE space sector will achieve a huge leap towards the consolidation of a distinct space industry in the Arab world, as an industry that reflects a reality filled with hope and ambition for the future generations.” Al Shaibani believes that this sector can become a driving force for economic growth and sustainable social development in the UAE.

Within UAE’s ambitious young space industry projects are the following initiatives:

  • A team composed solely of Emirati engineers is working on launching the Hope probe to the Red Planet by 2020; the probe will be launched from Japan, as part of the Arab and Islamic project to explore Mars – Hope mission – to send back images and data on the Martian atmosphere. So far, the scientific and engineering aspects of the project are proceeding on schedule, says Omran Sharaf, the MBRSC Project Manager of the Emirates Mars – Hope mission. If the probe were to reach the Red Planet, it would be the first time that an Arab country manages to get on another planet.
  • The UAE Space Agency and MBRSC in Dubai have set a goal to reach Mars by 2020. The Emirates Mars Mission could mean commercial space travel; the idea is to send tourists to space, said Dr Mohammad Nasser Al Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency.
  • UAE is also planning to build the first city on Mars by 2117. The project consists of building a livable city on Mars. “Mars 2117 is a long-term project,” HH Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in the statement. It will take plenty of research; much info will be gathered by sending an unmanned probe to Mars to study how the settlement is possible and sustainable in terms of energy food and transport, he added.

Today, the UAE shows a growing commitment to the space industry. Apart from decision to set up a $1-billion Earth Observation Space Center in Abu Dhabi and the government-owned satellite that was launched into space in 2009, the UAE space business has evolved with national space projects  thanks to the private sector that has taken the lead on space exploration.

This movement within the region is capturing and inspiring young Emiratis’ enthusiasm in the space sector; the hope is to enthuse the next generation of explorers as well as to increase the number of talents in the aerospace industry that will come from creating special programs in space sciences at universities in the UAE. Highly skilled jobs will become available for a growing youth population. It is therefore with the UAE Mars Mission to advance not only technological development and scientific discovery, but to keep the next generation engaged in its exploration adventure.

While the UAE has its Mars project goals to meet for the next years, NASA has gone on to recently discover a new planetary system, with seven planets the size of Earth which could be habitable zones.

UAE's Mars Mission: Emirates on the Red Planet by 2020

UAE's Mars Mission: Emirates on the Red Planet by 2020

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