When Hope soared into space from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan early Monday, the UAE probe carried the dreams of a young nation on its 495-million-km journey to Mars.
It is only befitting that the UAE will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its formation when the spacecraft arrives over the Red Planet in February 2021.
For a country that has been consistently achieving so much in such a short period, the space mission is a crowning glory and launch pad for loftier ambitions.
The first Arab inter-planetary space mission is central to the UAE’s plans for the future. The experience gleaned from the Hope project will instill in Emiratis the belief in their ability to reach for the stars. That will provide the fillip for future projects
One of the oft-stated ambitions has been to build a future based on the knowledge economy. And the Mars mission provides just the thrust required to inspire young Emiratis to pursue science as a passion and a career.
The fact that the Hope Probe was built entirely by Emiratis attests to the expertise required for the complex space mission.
Space may have been a final frontier for the UAE, but no longer. Hazaa Al Mansouri became the first Emirati astronaut when he rode aboard a Russian rocket to the International Space Station for an eight-day mission to conduct a stack of experiments.
His space odyssey in September last year sparked so much interest across the country that the next UAE astronaut could soon come from the ranks of the youngsters who cheered his historic feat.
The Mars probe is expected to station itself on a near-equatorial orbit between 22,000km to 43,000km and gather data on how dust influences the Martian temperature.
It will also monitor how energy moves through the Red Planet’s atmosphere throughout day and night, all year.
It will also look for clues to why Mars no longer holds water which is believed to have existed there. These aspects have not been studied before, so the data will be invaluable to scientists around the world.
The first Arab inter-planetary space mission is central to the UAE’s plans for the future. The experience gleaned from the Hope project will instill in Emiratis the belief in their ability to reach for the stars. That will provide the fillip for future projects.
As the UAE leaders said on the eve on the launch: “(Hope Probe) mission has succeeded in making people believe that nothing is impossible in the face of will and determination.”
For a region rich in history and science, the UAE probe’s successful launch offers a chance to look back at past achievements with pride, and dream of more ambitious ventures in the future with more confidence.