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UAE takes first step to Mars mission

Staff Report

ذو الحجة 27, 1435

Signing of agreement is major event in seven-year journey, says Shaikh Mohammed.

Shaikh Mohammed, Shaikh Saif and Shaikh Mansour at the signing of the agreement. Emiratis will lead the UAE’s mission to Mars which took a first step on Monday with the UAE Space Agency and Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre) signing an agreement in the presence of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The Vice-President called it mission of national pride which would contribute to the spread of knowledge. Expected to reach Mars in 2021, the programme is the first by an Arab, Islamic country, and it will be executed by the UAE Space Agency with support international partners.

“With pride, we took practical steps towards launching the first Arab mission to Mars,” tweeted Shaikh Mohammed. He said the signing marked a major event in the seven-year journey to “develop the knowledge, skills and infrastructure needed to accomplish our goal to reach Mars”.

“The sky’s the limit for our ambitions but that requires a team determined enough to attain this,” he said. The UAE entered the global race to explore outer space in July 2014 when The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, unveiled the space agency and announced plans to launch a scientific voyage of discovery to the red planet by 2021.

These announcements mark a turning point in the country’s development establishing space technology as a new drive for diversified economic growth. The Mars mission will enrich Emirati capabilities as well as increasing human knowledge about space exploration and distant planets. The probe will take nine months to make the journey to Mars. By this the UAE will be one of only nine countries with ambitions for Mars. The mission is scheduled to arrive in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the UAE.

The UAE Space Agency reports to the Cabinet and enjoys financial and administrative independence. It is responsible for organising, supervising and managing the nation’s space sector as well as supporting its contribution to the national economy. The agency works to raise awareness about the importance of space technologies, enhance national capabilities and encourage peaceful application of space research.

UAE’s investments in space technologies has already exceeded Dh20billion, including satellite data and TV broadcast company Al Yah Satellite Communications, mobile satellite communication company Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications and Earth mapping and observation system Dubai Sat.

Globally, space technologies are becoming increasingly important to the security and economy of nations, in many cases backed by massive national programmes and establishments. The sector forms an integral part of telecommunications, navigation, broadcasting and climatology.

The signing ceremony was also witnessed by Lt. General Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affair; Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs; Dr Khalifa Mohammed Al Rumaithi, Chairmanship of UAE Space Agency board; Mohammed Ahmed Ahmed Al Qamzi, Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority; and Khalifa Saeed Suleiman, Dubai Director of Protocol and Hospitality.