UAE’s ‘Apollo moment’

The United Arab Emirates is on its way to Mars, the first Arab country to launch an interplanetary mission, which it designed and built in just six years and dubbed Hope.

The Hope Mars orbiter launched toward Mars on a Japanese rocket on Sunday (July 19). Its name was carefully chosen to reflect the country’s goal for the mission, which focused as on spurring space exploration and science in the UAE as on actually reaching the Red Planet. But like the name of NASA’s own Mars mission launching this month, the Hope name has taken on a new resonance over the past months as the world navigates the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, which complicated launch preparations for both Mars missions. Nevertheless, both spacecraft made it to their rockets in time for the rare three-week launch window to the Red Planet.

“Whether it’s the Mars Perseverance mission or the Mars Hope mission, all of us believe that this is critical for our nations to inspire the next generation, to provide hope, and demonstrate perseverance,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a webcast held before launch.

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