A Japanese H-IIA rocket carrying the United Arab Emirates’ Mars mission spacecraft launched Monday morning from the Tanegashima Space Center on a small island in southern Japan.
The first interplanetary mission named Al-Amal or Hope in Arabic is the first space mission of its kind in the Arab world. The red planet mission was supposed to be launched July 15 but was pushed back for a July 20 liftoff due to bad weather.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which provided the rocket to launch the Mars orbiter, updated the launch date and time to 6:58 a.m. JST on Monday as preparations have been completed for the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 42 rocket.
The Emirates Mars Mission called Hope was developed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in the United Arab Emirates.
The unmanned Hope orbiter is expected to reach Mars in February 2021 in time for the 50th anniversary of the unification of the seven emirate states into the UAE.
The 1,350-kilogram Mars orbiter will cruise 493 million kilometers before it reaches Mars and starts its loop around the red planet.
The $200 million spacecraft which is the size of a car is scheduled to start its study of the Martian atmosphere on May 2021. The spacecraft will circle the planet at 43,000 kilometers above the surface while completing a revolution of the planet once in 55 hours.
The probe will remain in orbit for 687 days or a whole Martian year to gather atmospheric data and monitor dust and ice storms on Mars. It will also capture images of the planet’s atmosphere during different seasons and come up with a comprehensive understanding of the Martian atmosphere.
The Hope mission was conceived in 2014 and is designed by Emirati engineers to inspire the region’s youth and pave the way for more scientific breakthroughs.
The oil-rich UAE will join countries such as the United States, Russia, India, and the European Space Agency in successfully sending spacecraft to orbit the planet Mars. Other countries eyeing to launch its first Mars spacecraft is China with its Tianwen-1 orbiter, lander, and rover slated to also launch this month.