Tuesday, October 26, 2021

After successful Mars mission, the UAE sets its sights on Venus

The UAE wants to send a spaceship on a five-year mission to explore Venus and a group of asteroids—and tie itself to the Arab world’s scientific legacy.

 The UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Technology Sarah Al Amiri

MONTHS AFTER ITS interplanetary mission to Mars, the UAE’s millennial space corps now aims to venture further into our solar system.

A new mission will seek to explore Venus, along with seven asteroids within our solar system, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced Tuesday. The mission aims to break new milestones, like sending a spaceship on a journey roughly seven times the distance traveled by the UAE’s Hope probe to Mars, which will culminate with the first Arab probe landing on an asteroid.

The quest to Venus, which the UAE aims to officially launch in 2028, is planned to span five years, with the spacecraft itself expected to take roughly seven years to build.

It will be the UAE’s latest effort to muscle its way to the head of a renewed global space race. After sending the first Emirati astronaut to space in 2019, the UAE became the first in the Arab world to embark on an interplanetary mission to Mars. The country has even stated ambitions to send people to live on the Red Planet by 2117.

Sarah Al-Amiri, the UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Technology, called the UAE’s second mission to explore outer space a “continuation of the UAE’s journey to invest in people.” She also laid out the intended goal to explore a group of asteroids, in order to gain a deeper understanding of how the solar system was formed. 

“The private sector will play a key role in the new mission as it is the main driver of the space economy in the country. The project is accompanied by an integrated program to support the establishment of Emirati companies in the space sector specialized in the space industries and sciences,” she added.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed alluded to the country’s ambition to leave its mark in global space history in his comments on the new Venus mission. “The launch of a new project to explore Venus and the asteroid belt sets an ambitious new goal for our country’s burgeoning space program,” he wrote. “The UAE is determined to make a meaningful contribution to space exploration, scientific research and our understanding of the solar system.”

Dubai’s Sheikh Mohamed echoed a similar sentiment in his original announcement, and linked it to the Arab world’s many contributions to the history of science. “A third of the stars in the sky had Arab names because the Arabs were pioneers of astronomy,” he wrote. “Our mission is to resume our Arab civilization. And if we don’t act today, when?”

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