Dubai: The rocket that will transport UAE Hope Probe (Al Amal) to Mars has been fueled up, while the batteries, solar panels, sensors, communication instruments and other sub-systems of the orbiter have been tested and are ready for launch on July 15.
This was announced during a media briefing by the UAE Space Agency and key members of the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) team via Zoom on Thursday.
Hope Probe will be launched in space aboard Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ (MHI) H-IIA rocket, a high-performance rocket developed and operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries while Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will take care of flight safety, range safety and launch site facility.
The first interplanetary spacecraft by an Arab nation will lift off on July 15 at 12.51.27am (UAE Time) from Tanegashima Space Centre (TNSC) in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan.
The tank of the H-IIA (launch vehicle No. 42) rocket was filled with about 700kg of hydrogen fuel. It is also equipped with star tracker sensors that will help determine its position in space by identifying the constellations in relation to the sun.
Eng Omran Sharaf, EMM director, said after fuelling, engineers will continue to carry out leakage and other tests until the launch day.
Every move will be tested – all instruments onboard, software, solar panels and communication instruments before charging the batteries of the spacecraft and installed it on the rocket.
The next step will be the cockpit fairing – where Hope Probe will be placed in the launch vehicle payload. “This which will be done by weekend or early next week,” according to Sharaf.
Fairing is a nose cone that protects the launch vehicle payload. It will protect Hope Probe against the impact of dynamic pressure and aerodynamic heating during launch.
The July 15 launch will be the 42nd for MHI since 2001. The H-IIA rocket can reach a launch speed of up to 34,082kph and has a 97.6 per cent successful launch rate, according to reports.
How launch day will look like
Weather will play a crucial role during the launch. Responding to a question by Gulf News, Suhail AlDhafri, EMM deputy project manager and spacecraft lead, said the team will review the weather forecast three days before the launch can proceed.
There will also be an hourly weather check during launch day to determine the go/no-go decision for the launch.
Hope for the Arab world and humanity
During the briefing, Dr Mohamed Nasser Al-Ahbabi, director general of the UAE Space Agency, reiterated the significance of the Mars Mission.
He noted 50 years ago there were only two countries – US and the former Soviet Union (USSR) – that were involved in space exploration. Now, more than 60 countries have space activities and space agencies.
“Why are we (UAE) in space race? It is for the advancement of the UAE,” said Al-Ahbabi, addin,: “The (space programme) is important for our UAE’s sustainability and it serves as the bridge to future.”
He added the Probe brings hope and inspiration to the young generation who will be attracted to venture into science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
He also underlined that Mars Mission has a wider impact in the region as the UAE has “engaged with 14 Arab countries for space cooperation and sharing of resources to promote space awareness”.
Mariam Alshamsi, EMM Instrument Science Lead - Science Team, added the data and scientific information that will be collected by Hope Probe will be available to everyone via the Emirates Science Data Centre.
Hope Probe will orbit Mars and explore the atmosphere of the Red Planet and this will help scientists not only understand the weather but also learn how Mars has lost some of its atmosphere.
“We are going to understand what triggered it and how that might also affect us in the future. The data will not only be available for the UAE but for the international scientific community,” Alshamsi noted.