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United Arab Emirates spacecraft to reach Mars’ orbit


United Arab Emirates spacecraft to reach Mars’ orbit

Photo: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries/Handout via Reuters

After a smooth 204-day, 493-million kilometre journey, the UAE will make history today as only the fifth nation to ever reach Mars with a robotic space mission, dubbed ‘Hope.’

The Hope mission was designed in 2014 by a consortium of scientists and engineers from the UAE and US with the goal of showcasing Abu Dhabi’s commitment to scientific progress. Launched in July during one of the opportune ‘launch windows’ that occur every 26-months between Earth and Mars’ elliptical orbits, Hope will shortly begin the process of slowing down from 121,000kph to 18,000kph in order to begin its two-year orbital mission. The spacecraft itself is a sophisticated scientific platform that will make the most comprehensive and precise measurements of the composition of the Martian atmosphere yet.

For regional rivals, the Emirates Mars Mission shows Abu Dhabi’s serious economic and scientific resolve to become a major space power. Short-term, readers should expect a greater UAE presence in space-related forums, research, and interests; long-term, look for Abu Dhabi to use its experience and wealth to secure a place for a UAE astronaut on any manned mission to Mars.

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