'Hope' – UAE becomes first Arab nation to launch mission to Mars
ABU DHABI – The first Arab interplanetary space blasted into sky early on Monday morning, beginning its epic journey to Mars, a landmark moment for the Arab world as UAE makes history.
Hope Probe, or Al Amal in Arabic, lifted off from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre and in about 200 days from now, the spacecraft will reach Mars orbit and begin its mission to study the Red Planet’s atmosphere, marking the 50th anniversary of the unification of the UAE, an alliance of seven emirates.
The nation held its breath on Sunday, along with the entire region, as the Probe took off from Land of Rising Sun in Japan, aboard a Mitsubishi H-IIA rocket in the first mission to the red planet by any West Asian, Arab or Muslim majority country.
In Dubai, the launch was met with rapturous excitement, with the UAE Mars mission's deputy project manager Sarah Al-Amiri declaring it "an indescribable feeling" to see the probe blasting off.
"This is the future of the UAE," Amiri, who is also minister of state for advanced sciences, told Dubai TV from the launch site.
The Emirati project is one of three racing to Mars, including Tianwen-1 from China and Mars 2020 from the United States, taking advantage of a period when the Earth and Mars are nearest.
In October, Mars will be a comparatively short 38.6 million miles (62.07 million kilometres) from Earth, according to NASA.
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