The UAE has entered the space race with a project to send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021 in the Arab world’s first mission to another planet. A new UAE Space Agency will be created to coordinate the UAE’s growing space technology sector and to supervise the mission.
The probe will take nine months to make the more than 60mkilometre journey to Mars and will mark UAE out as one of only nine countries with space programmes to explore the Red Planet. Besides advancing human knowledge, the project aims to develop Emirati human capital and boost the space technology industry as a sustainable driver of the UAE’s increasingly diversified economy.
“The UAE Mars probe represents the Islamic world’s entry into the era of space exploration. We will prove that we are capable of delivering new scientific contributions to humanity,” UAE President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan said and added: “The purpose is to build Emirati technical and intellectual capabilities in the fields of aerospace and space exploration.”
“Despite all the tensions and the conflicts across the Middle East, we have proved today how positive a contribution the Arab people can make to humanity through great achievements, given the right circumstances and ingredients. Our region is a region of civilisation. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilise,” H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said.
The mission will be led by Emiratis whose expertise will grow through from knowledge transfer from international partners.
“We chose the epic challenge of reaching Mars because epic challenges inspire us and motivate us. The moment we stop taking on such challenges is the moment we stop moving forward,” H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid added.
The Red Planet project would be a turning point in the UAE’s development, establishing the space technology sector as a key component of the national economy for years to come.
“The UAE’s purpose is to enter the space industry and to make use of space technology in a way that enhances the country’s development plans,”H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed said.
UAE investments in space technologies already exceed AED 20bn 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.
H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said the UAE Space Agency would be responsible for supervising and organising all such activities, developing the sector,ensuring knowledge transfer, enhancing the UAE’s position as a global player in aerospace, and maximising the contribution of space industries to the national economy. The agency will report to the cabinet and enjoy financial and administrative independence.
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 is integral to many aspects of life from telecommunications and navigation to broadcasting and monitoring of weather and natural disasters. The industry is growing by around 8% annually.
“We aim for the UAE to be among the top countries in the field of aerospace by 2021. We have a great belief in the talents of our young people and a clear plan to reach our targets,” H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed said.