The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday launched a spacecraft to Mars with a goal to build a human colony on the planet by 2117.
TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) reports the spacecraft blasted off from a launch centre in Japan in what is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission.
The Mars orbiter, named Amal or Hope, blasted off from the Tanegashima Space Center aboard a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H-IIA rocket.
Amal is set to reach Mars in February 2021, the year the UAE celebrates 50 years since the country’s formation.
In September that year, Amal will start transmitting Martian atmospheric data, which will be made available to the international scientific community, according to Omran Sharaf, UAE Mars mission director.
A newcomer in space development, the UAE has successfully put three Earth observation satellites into orbit. Two were developed by South Korea and launched by Russia, and a third, its own, launched by Japan.
A successful mission to Mars would be a major step for the oil-dependent economy seeking a future in space, coming less than a year after the launch of the first UAE astronaut, Hazzaa Ali Almansoori. He spent over a week at the International Space Station last fall.
“It sends a very strong message to the Arab youth that if the UAE is able to reach Mars in less than 50 years, they could do much more,” Sharaf told The Associated Press on Sunday as his colleagues prepared for the launch.
The Amal spacecraft, along with its launch, cost $200 million, according to Sharaf. Operation costs at Mars are yet to be divulged.