On 14 July, the UAE will become the first Arab country to launch a mission to Mars, as part of a wider regional effort to build knowledge and create opportunities, especially for young people.
The Hope Mars Mission is expected to reach the planet by February, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the UAE. The project has been planned, managed and implemented by an Emirati team overseen and funded by the UAE Space Agency, according to the BBC
“This mission is not just about the UAE it’s about the region, it’s about the Arab issue,” Omran Sharaf, the mission’s project manager at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), said.
“The region is going through tough times and we do need good news and we need the youth in the region to really start looking inwards, building their own nations and putting differences aside to co-exist with people with different faiths and backgrounds and work together.”
Developing talent, creating opportunities for engineers, scientists, and researchers working in natural sciences are the next important endeavours for the country, Sarah Al-Amiri, the UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Sciences added.
“Mars provided us with the necessary challenge to rigorously develop talent in engineering, it gave us an appetite for risk and being able to circumvent the risk and push forward with the mission for development. It allows us to start integrating and creating new opportunities for scientists within the UAE and those that are studying the natural sciences,” said Al-Amiri.
Since the project was launched in 2014, the team has designed, developed and assembled the spacecraft, and repeatedly tested it through the harsh conditions it is expected to encounter.
Over the last 60 years, only six countries have sent missions to the Red Planet.
Sir Ian Blatchford, director of the UK’s Science Museum Group, described the UAE’s project as fascinating.
“What they are trying to achieve is remarkable for a country that is developing this infrastructure, but particularly I think they’re being very modest in describing the fact that they’re doing it in half the time,” he said.
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