Hope Mars Mission: Launching the Arab World into the Space Race

Space.com | 10/21/2019 | Jeremy Rehm
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The Hope Mars Mission, also called the Emirates Mars Mission, is the first uncrewed, interplanetary satellite spearheaded by the United Arab Emirates. In fact, the Hope satellite is the first planetary science mission led by an Arab-Islamic country. And the United Arab Emirates has not shied away from making lofty goals for the spacecraft.

When Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates, announced in July 2014 that the Emirates would send a satellite to Mars, he said that the launch date would be in July 2020, only six years from his announcement. That timing coincides with the alignment of Earth and Mars, which occurs once every two years. It also means the spacecraft should reach Mars in 2021, the year of the 50th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates' formation. The Emirati government later said it also planned to build a habitable settlement on Mars by 2117.

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But the United Arab Emirates Space Agency — the government agency tasked with developing and regulating a world-class space sector for the United Arab Emirates — was established only in 2014, the same year that the Al-Amal (Arabic for "hope") mission was announced. And it wasn't until April 2015 that Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, established the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, where the Hope satellite would actually be built. That left the country with little time to reach its target launch date.

"We chose the epic challenge of reaching Mars because epic challenges inspire and motivate us," Mohammed bin Rashid said in the 2014 statement. "The moment we stop taking on such challenges is the moment we stop moving forward."

United - Arab - Emirates - Space - Agency

The United Arab Emirates Space Agency has faced those challenges head-on and accelerated forward. As of April 2019, the...
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