By Bernd Debusmann Jr
The Hope Probe is scheduled to enter Mars' atmosphere in February 2021
After sending its first astronaut to space last year, the United Arab Emirates is to launch a probe to Mars in July, Emirates Mars Mission announced.
The unmanned probe, named Hope, will be "the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation", it said.
Emirates Mars Mission said the probe would be launched on July 15, at 2051 GMT, from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre, using a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries platform.
It is set to make a 495-million-kilometre (307-million-mile) journey to reach and orbit the Red Planet.
Last September, Hazza al-Mansouri made history as the first Emirati in space.
The announcement follows the probe’s successful transfer from the UAE to Japan, which took over 83 hours by land, air and sea.
Since arriving at the platform, the Hope Probe has begun preparations for launch. The process, will take more than 50 days in total, entails filling the fuel talk with approximately 700 kilograms of hydrogen fuel and ensuring there are no leaks.
Additionally, communications and control devices will be tested before the probe is moved to the launch pad and installed on the rocket that will carry it to space.
“The challenges overcome by the Hope Probe team amidst the global pandemic confirm the UAE mission’s commitment to achieve the impossible,” said Sarah bint Youssef Al-Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences and Emirates Mars mission deputy project manager.
“It is a mentality that has now been embedded within the current and future generations,” she added. “This mission embodies the nation’s aspirations, sends a positive message to the world and demonstrates the importance of carrying on unabated despite barriers and challenges.”
The Hope Probe is anticipated to enter Mars’ orbit in February 2021, coinciding with the UAE’S golden jubilee celebrations to mark the country’s union in 1971.