Category : Technology
The first interplanetary mission of the United Arab Emirates successfully took off from the southern tip of Japan: a spacecraft was sent to Mars.
The spacecraft, called “hope”, took off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan over the Japanese H-IIA rocket. The dispatched vehicle will now spend the next seven months in deep space. It will position himself on Mars in February 2021 and collect valuable information on both climate changes and the atmosphere.
Government officials designed this project as a bold way to inspire young people in 2014 and to celebrate the country's 50th anniversary in December 2021.
For now, it's all going well. A few minutes after the spacecraft was deployed from the rocket, engineers were afraid that the vehicle had not opened one of the two solar panels. However, the UAE eventually confirmed that both panels were deployed. The mission team stated that they are in contact with the spacecraft and that Hope is in good shape. Engineers will continue to analyze data from the spacecraft and make updates on Hope's health in the coming hours.
"The years of hard work and dedication have resulted greatly," said United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the USA, Yousef Al Otaiba, during the live broadcast after the launch. “Thanks to the team effort of the mission, the UAE's first spacecraft, which was only a theory and idea six years ago, now flies towards another planet in space. This is a great success. But this is just the beginning. "
Coming to this point proved to be a particularly challenging process for the UAE, the experience of launching satellites that have been observing the Earth so far. Engineers and scientists only had six years to prepare for research this year, and they commissioned their governments to build (not buy) the spacecraft themselves within a $200 million budget for development and launch.
The team behind the task decided they didn't want to go alone. They have partnered with several academic institutions in the United States, including the University of Colorado at Boulder, Arizona State University, and the University of California, Berkeley, with previous experience in designing instruments or equipment for deep space probes. This great partnership has allowed the United Arab Emirates’ team to develop known spacecraft designs and use existing testing infrastructure and gain knowledge from experienced aerospace engineers.
The excitement is high for the big test. It is known that the propulsors must make a 30-minute burn in order for Hope to be taken into orbit of Mars. This event is planned to take place in February 2021.