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Arabs on Mars

Planet Mars

On Wednesday July 16 it was announced that the UAE will be joining the likes of Russia, the UK and the USA, in the exploration of Mars.

July 20, 2014 5:15 by

By Tola Onasanya


A new space agency will be set up in the hopes of launching an unmanned space probe to Mars by 2021. “It will be the Islamic world’s entry into an era of space exploration,” says President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nayhan. The launch is scheduled to coincide with the 50-year anniversary of the formation of the United Arab Emirates.

Led by Emiratis, The Red Planet Project seeks to be a pivotal factor in the development of the UAE. The establishment of a space technology sector could play a major role in the nation’s economy in the future. “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,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Ruler of Dubai adds.

The announcement makes the UAE one of only 9 countries that is working on programmes to explore Mars.

Space Rivals

Russia – formerly the Soviet Space Program, now the Russian Federal Space Agency; they have been involved in exploration of Mars since 1960. Their first successful mission came in 1971, the Mars 2 Orbiter. Their most recent effort was in 2011, with collaboration the Chinese, to send the lander Fobos-Grunt to collect a sample of soil from the planet – failed to leave Earth’s orbit.

USA – NASA were the first space institution to successfully complete a mission to observe Mars. In 1964 the Mariner 4 Flyby successfully returned 21 images of the planet’s surface. The MAVEN orbiter was launched last year and is currently en route to Mars.

India – The Indian Space Research Organisation successfully launched the Mars Orbiter Mission in November of 2013, and is currently on its way to the Red Planet.

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