In a first for an Arab nation, UAE launches Mars mission from Japan

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday celebrated the launch of its “Hope” probe to Mars, the first interplanetary mission by an Arab nation.

The long-anticipated blast-off of the unmanned spacecraft at 6:58 am local time (2158 GMT Sunday) from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center was met with rapturous applause in the Emirates.

Meanwhile, the command and control centre at Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) — which spearheaded the Mars project on which some 450 people worked, more than half of them Emirati — was abuzz with excitement.

The UAE Mars mission’s deputy project manager, Sarah al-Amiri, said it was “an indescribable feeling” to witness the rocket launch. “This is the future of the UAE,” Amiri, who is also Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, told Dubai TV from the launch site.

“We are waiting for the moment of separation and the first signal… I thank the UAE for this opportunity,” she said. “Hope” (Al-Amal in Arabic) has been a source of great pride in the UAE, a newcomer to the world of space.