On July 14, 2020, the UAE launched its first-ever mission to Mars and made history as the first Arab country to venture beyond Earth’s orbit.
Officially known as “Hope” or “Al Amal” in Arabic, the Emirates Mars probe began its seven month journey to the Red planet from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center and endures the legacy of Hazza Al Mansouri, the UAE’s first astronaut to reach the International Space Station. In celebration of this historic moment, Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba hosted a virtual watch party and live-streamed the launch at the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC. This cutting-edge spacecraft is expected to reach its destination upon the UAE’s 50th anniversary in 2021.
Leading up to the event, Ambassador Al Otaiba had the honor of hosting H.E. Sarah Al Amiri, UAE Minister of Advanced Technology and Deputy Project Manager of the Emirates Mars Mission and Dr. Ellen Stofan, the Director of the National Air and Space Museum and former Chief Scientist of NASA on an episode of Podbridge. The Pobridge episode not only focused on the future aspirations of the Emirates Mars Mission but ongoing challenges and emerging opportunities for women working in space exploration.
During the podcast, Al Otaiba stated “Nearly 60 years ago, President John Kennedy delivered his famous moon shot speech and captured the imagination of the world. Today in the UAE, that same energy and wonderment exists as the Hope probe is set to launch. The Emirates Mars Mission is inspiring a new generation of Arab youth to explore careers in science and technology, and opening up new frontiers of possibility for our region.”
The Emirates Mars Mission originally began in 2014 under UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai. In this endeavor, Emirati scientists worked closely with US academic institutions including the University of California-Berkeley, Arizona State University and the University of Colorado to develop the Arab world’s first interplanetary space probe and refine the region’s space exploration program. Following years of dedication and collaboration, the Hope probe will serve as Mars’ first weather satellite and use three state-of-the art science instruments to collect data and study the inner workings of its mysterious atmosphere.
Beyond the UAE’s groundbreaking Mars mission, the region recently launched the Arab Space Pioneers program, a three-year intensive training opportunity for young Arab experts in the space sector. Additionally, the UAE announced plans to launch a lunar rover named Rashid and visit the Moon by 2024. These initiatives ultimately symbolize the region’s broader vision to diversify the economy, promote innovation in science and technology and to inspire competition in STEM among countries in the MENA region.
Watch the full virtual launch party at the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC.