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Hope Probe: Arab ambition to reach Mars
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 03 - 07 - 2020

With the days nearing for the launch of the historic mission to Mars, the Hope Probe will implement an ambitious vision that began six years ago when the UAE's leadership announced the first Arab and Islamic probe to travel to the red planet.
The project is part of the UAE's efforts to establish a sustainable knowledge-based economy and reinforce its position in the areas of space science and exploration.
The officials who participated in a media briefing on the probe, which was held on Thursday via video conferencing, stated that the project reflects the ambition of the UAE and the ongoing efforts of its leadership to defy the impossible and establish a culture of possibilities within the country's identity.
The project aims to achieve a milestone in the areas of engineering, scientific research and innovation in the country, and is an Emirati contribution to shaping a promising future for mankind, they added.
Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency, said, "We are witnessing a historic era, not only in the UAE but also in the entire Arab region, through the launch of the first Arab and Islamic probe to the planet, Mars."
He also pointed out that the Emirates Mars Mission project plays a key role in giving hope to the youth of the Arab region, and aims to inspire future generations and encourage them to engage in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Al Ahbabi noted that despite the current challenges facing the entire world, the launch of the probe within schedule is an achievement, stressing that the project represents a milestone in the UAE's excellence and leadership in the space sector.
He added that the UAE has the largest space sector in the region, noting that the project and the country's space programs have motivated the youth to study science and increased demand for space program courses in higher education.
Al Ahbabi said that the national space sector currently comprises 10 orbital satellites and eight new satellites under development, explaining that investments in the sector total $6 billion (AED22 billion).
Omran Sharaf, project manager of Emirates Mars Mission, said that the probe is being subjected to detailed maintenance before its launch since its successful arrival at the space station in Tanegashima Island, Japan, which includes filling its fuel tank for the first time with around 700 kilograms of fuel, checking for leaks, testing communication and control equipment, moving the probe to the launch pad, installing the probe on the rocket that will carry it to space, and charging its batteries for the last time.
"We are currently in the project's final preparatory phase. We have filled its fuel tank, and tests will continue until the launch date."
He also pointed out that, due to the support of the UAE's leadership, the probe's maintenance team overcame the challenges facing the project until it reached Japan, in line with the precautionary measures to counter the current health crisis, adding that three teams are maintaining the probe.
"The first team arrived in Japan on April 6, 2020, and were quarantined before working on the probe while the second team arrived on April 21, 2020, and its members are now at the space station after completing their 14-day quarantine. The third team, which is the reserve team, is currently in the UAE, and its members are ready to offer support if needed," Sharaf said.
The date, July 15, 2020, at 00:51:27 UAE time, has been set for the launch of the probe.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, MBRSC, is managing all phases of the probe's design, implementation and dispatch to space while the agency, the federal authority in charge of the UAE's space sector, is supervising its financing and administration. — WAM

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