The US and sometimes China and Europe often get the lion’s share of space-faring news but they are hardly the only ones with their eyes set on the heavens above. Like the New Frontier of old, outer space and the heavenly bodies are pretty much fair game for anyone that can reach them. The problem, of course, is the last part, and the United Arab Emirates has just proven to the world that it indeed can with the successful launch of its first-ever space mission, the Martian probe Al-Amal, or Hope.
Although known for its bountiful resources when it comes to oil and gas, the Arab region hasn’t exactly been making headlines when it comes to space technology. That, of course, changed today when the Hope probe not only launched successfully from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan but also safely separated from the rocket an hour later. This makes the UAE one of only three countries on a race to leave their lasting imprint on the Red Planet.
Al-Amal’s explicit and primary purpose is, of course, scientific exploration, specifically the analysis of Mars’ weather dynamics. Unlike other Martian missions, however, the probe won’t be landing on the planet’s surface. Instead, it will be orbiting Mars for 687 days, the equivalent of a single Martian year. Hope is expected to reach Mars’ orbit by February 2021.
The probe wasn’t named “Hope” without reason, of course. The mission and its success carry both political and social undertones. It is intended to serve as an inspiration for the Emirati that their country is indeed capable of reaching such great heights, literally and figuratively, despite the conflicts and crises that never seem to end in their homeland.
Of course, the united emirates are also aiming to colonize Mars, though not any time soon. It will be racing against the US and China, among a few, who are also slated to launch missions to Mars later this year.