The United Arab Emirates, having already built the largest building on Earth, now take aim at Mars with a probe in 2021.
Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and monarch of Dubai, stated that the Arab world is still capable of scientific contributions to humanity, regardless of the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. “Our region is a region of civilization. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilize.”
While the UAE has been pushing for the Arab League nations to create an agency similar to the European Space Agency, it appears they will be going it alone. With its current investments in space technologies equaling roughly $5.4 billion US, the UAE has a good a chance as any to succeed. That said, of all the missions that have been launched to Mars, roughly 50 percent have failed. The US currently has the best success rate, with 70% of their missions making it to the red planet intact.
The ruler of the emirate of Abu Dhabi and UAE President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan said the Mars probe “represents the Islamic world’s entry into the era of space exploration.” While neighboring countries like Iran do have space programs, they have only recently been able to send a monkey into space.
The probe’s journey to Mars will also coincide with the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s independence from Britain in 1971. Al Maktoum later said that “we chose the epic challenge of reaching Mars because epic challenges inspire us and motivate us.” A video has since been released by the UAE’s government, and provides an idea of what the mission will be like. You can watch it below.
With the UAE’s history of larger-than-life projects, it will be interesting to watch as the country develops their own space agency. With the strong ties that the UAE and US governments share, I wouldn’t be surprised if NASA partnered with the country eventually as well.
[Image Credit: UAE Government]