UAE Sees Successful Launch of Mars Space Probe from Japanese Island
An ambitious United Arab Emirates probe aimed at the planet Mars successfully lifted off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center on Monday morning following two weather-induced scrubs last week. The $200 million Al Amal (Hope) probe, atop a Mitsubishi H-IIA rocket, lifted off at 6.58 a.m. local time. It will take several months for the probe to reach the Red Planet, where it will orbit the equator for a full Martian year (nearly two Earth years), studying the weather and atmosphere. A little more than an hour after lifting off, it opened an array of solar panels for electrical power and made radio contact with Earth-bound controllers. Like other Gulf countries, the UAE is making efforts to diversify away from carbon energy as a sole source of income; its space program is one way it can explore new technologies to do so, according to planning officials. The program got underway in earnest in 2017, the initial goal being the development of native knowhow. Last year, an Emirati astronaut spent time at the International Space Station. There is now talk of a long-term UAE effort to settle people on Mars by 2117.