Dubai: The UAE is in its final preparations for the launch of the Arab world’s first spacecraft to Mars, the Hope Probe, before the launch in July 2020 to reach the Red Planet in the first quarter of 2021, the year of the Golden Jubilee of the UAE.

The UAE Space Agency (UAESA) and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in January announced the launch date and confirmed it on Tuesday.

The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM)’s Hope Probe create mankind’s first integrated model of the Red Planet’s atmosphere.

It is expected to launch in July 2020 from Japan and should reach Mars by February 2021. The launch window, however, is between July 14 and August 3, which is the time during which Earth and Mars would be at their closest point, which happens only once every two years.

The Hope Probe will be launched from Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan with a carrier rocket similar to that used for the launch of satellites. This is also where the UAE’s first 100 per cent Emirati-made satellite, the KhalifaSat, was launched in October last year.

Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said the final preparations to launch the Hope Probe are being supported and guided by the wise leadership and by the sons of Zayed “who seek to raise the UAE’s flag through this ambitious project, the largest of its kind in the region to explore another planet.”

“The Hope Probe will be a milestone in the UAE’s record of achievements, which began since the inception of the UAE. It is a confirmation to the whole world that the UAE has entered the global space exploration race and is determined to hold a leading position among the developed countries in this difficult and complex field,” Al Falasi said.

Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri, Chairman of MBRSC, said the countdown to sending the Hope Probe to Mars orbit has begun.

“Less than one year left till we make a new historical achievement and add it to the UAE’s record. We are certain that the data the global scientific community will receive about Mars through this mission, will be valuable and will contribute to enhancing our understanding and knowledge about the Red Planet; a knowledge that will be passed on to future generations,” Al Mansouri said.

Dr. Eng. Mohammad Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director-General of the UAE Space Agency, said, “The success of the development of the Hope Probe until the last stages, according to the approved schedule, characterises the national space infrastructure and the technical and scientific capabilities of Emirati youth who are committed to this ambitious project.”

Hamad Al Shaibani, Director-General of MBRSC, said, “The achievements made by the EMM team, which is working on all the stages of the Hope Probe, from design to assembly and testing, will be a title of pride in the UAE’s modern history.”

The Hope Probe will collect information on Mars’ meteorological layers and study the causes of loss of hydrogen and oxygen gases, the two main constituents of water, from the upper layer of the Martian atmosphere.

It is expected to collect more than 1,000 GB of new data on the Red Planet.

5 Intensive Environmental Tests

The five environmental tests are being conducted on the Hope Probe since June 2019, and will continue till the end of December 2019, to ensure that the probe is ready before the launch date in July 2020.

The five environmental tests include the Vibration test, the Electromagnetic Interference and Compatibility test (EMI), the Thermal test (on extreme temperature), the Vacuum test, and the Shock test.

The launch date is approaching

There have been only 26 successful missions to Mars, from the US, Europe, Japan and others. In July 2020, the UAE joins these countries to be among the only nine countries in the world to contribute to the discovery of Mars.