An H-2A rocket carrying the Hope Probe lifts off from the Tanegashima Space Centre, Japan. Reuters
At a time when the world has been gripped by enormous negativity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the UAE has shown what goal-setting, hard work, and absolute determination can help achieve.
While the UAE has scripted history with the Hope Probe successfully launching into space for the first-ever Arab mission to Mars from the Tanegashima Island in Japan in the wee hours of Monday, entire humanity stands to benefit.
That’s so because the Hope Probe team will communicate and share findings with the global Mars science community on key questions that no other mission has addressed before.
The UAE Space Agency and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre have already announced that the Ground Control station located in the Al Khawaneej area of Dubai successfully received the first transmission from the Hope Probe at 03:10 am, Monday.
Meticulous planning played a key role. Upon its arrival to Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre, the Hope Probe went through many tests and preparations. This included filling the fuel tank with about 800kg of hydrogen fuel, checking the tank to ensure that it has no leaks, as well as checking the communications systems, moving the spacecraft to the launch pad and charging the batteries. Tests also included the craft’s subsystems, such as measuring the electrical power, communication, altitude control, command and control, propulsion, thermal control and software systems.
There’s also a pleasant coincidence. The spacecraft will take seven months to travel the 493 million km, it is expected to reach its Mar’s orbit in February 2021 marking the 50th anniversary of the UAE.
The probe will remain orbiting Mars for an entire Martian year, 687 days, to gather sufficient data. A single orbit around Mars will take the probe 55 hours.
Visionary leadership helped fuel the success story. Earlier, through a video meeting, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, along with other dignitaries were briefed on the range of technical tasks overseen by the space mission’s team.
The coordination and efforts of the Emirati teams at both the launch site in Japan and the ground station in Dubai to transfer the probe on time for its initial launch amid the health and logistical challenges posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic were truly amazing.
Since the probe’s arrival to the launch station in Japan in April, Emirati engineers have worked around the clock to conduct the final pre-flight checks.
Dividing the responsibilities and tasks has enabled the team to work efficiently and flexibly to ensure the probe was transferred to the launch site in Japan’s Tanegashima Island on time for its initial launch. The probe was moved in an 83-hour operation of three major stages despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum said, “In 1976, the late Sheikh Zayed met NASA experts because space was his ambition. Today, you are making his dream come true. The young capacities and engineers who have learned and reached to this stage today is what the whole project is about.”
In Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s words, it marks a milestone in the history of UAE and the Arab nation because this unprecedented achievement is for all the Arabs. The fact that this achievement was crafted by Emirati hands certainly makes it a historic day.