UAE: The UAE's historic Mars mission is on track

By Willy Mikalef, Alia Jenayah

01-2021

“Mars 2117 is a seed we are sowing today to reap the fruit of new generations led by a passion for science and advancing human knowledge," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai about the UAE's Mars 2117 project. 

The Emirates Mars Mission, or « Hope » (« Amal » in Arabic) is the Arab world’s first mission sending an unmanned spacecraft to Mars. The satellite probe is set to arrive in time for the country's milestone 50th anniversary. 

The mission aims to produce the first global map (and not only snapshots) of the Martian climate and to release its data to the scientific community for free. It also intends to stimulate investment and encourage private sector participation in the space sector activities. The driver “is not [only] space, it’s economic”, said Omran Sharaf, the mission’s project manager. 

To accomplish the objectives of the Hope probe, an agreement was signed between the UAE Space Agency and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). The mission is executed and funded by the UAE Space Agency with support from international partners. 

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the mission began its journey to Mars on 15 July 2020 from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre (TNSC). It is expected to reach the red planet in February 2021.

Over the past decade, the UAE entered the club of space faring nations. The country launched its first satellite in 2009. Ten years later, it adopted a comprehensive national space legislation, the Federal Law No. 12 of 2019 on the Regulation of the Space Sector. Implementing regulations detailing the principles set out in the Law have already been issued (e.g. regarding registration of space object and earth observation space-based data). Others are still under progress (e.g. regarding authorization human spaceflight activities, space debris mitigation, insurance). The UAE also established an ambitious National Space Strategy 2030 and a National Space Investment Plan. One of the UAE’s objectives is to ultimately be part of a settlement on Mars.