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LONDON: After traversing hundreds of millions of kilometers, the UAE’s inaugural spacecraft — the Hope Probe — is just days away from reaching Mars, but the mission’s positive impact at home has already made it a success, the leadership behind the project has said.


Currently traveling through space at approximately 120,000 km per hour, the Hope Probe will enter the orbit of Mars on Feb. 9, making the UAE just the fifth nation ever to reach the red planet.


This is a “critically important milestone,” Omran Sharaf, project manager at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), said in a webinar held on Monday by the Emirates Society and attended by Arab News.


“But this project wasn’t just about reaching Mars. Science and data is extremely important and one of the main drivers of the mission, but there’s much more to it than that.”

The Hope Probe is nearing Mars. Congratulations to everyone on the occasion of the historic Emirati Mission to Mars. pic.twitter.com/XFTGHFybat

— محمد بن زايد (@MohamedBinZayed) February 1, 2021

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The UAE’s Mars mission “aimed to create disruptive change and a positive impact at home, and to inspire a shift in the priorities of the Emirati youth,” Sharaf said.


He added that the project is already acting as a “catalyst” in Emirati society that has triggered and supported the creation of an advanced science sector in the UAE.


The “build it, don’t buy it” philosophy behind the mission has been instrumental in developing confidence in the UAE’s science, technology and research sectors, he said.

My brother Mohammed bin Rashid and I discussed our national achievements, particularly in space and science, and our pride in the nation’s youth. We learned from Sarah Al-Amiri about the progress of the Hope probe as it nears Mars. We wish you all success on this historic journey pic.twitter.com/28k11MK1tC

— محمد بن زايد (@MohamedBinZayed) February 1, 2021

Sarah Al-Amiri, the UAE’s minister of state for advanced sciences, said the mission “has taught us a mechanism by which we’re able to develop talent and capabilities, transfer them through different levels of expertise and, more importantly, develop small businesses that can cater to big industries.”


The country’s rapidly maturing space industry, she added, will play a key role in the creation of new private sector enterprises in the UAE.


Not only has the mission spurred a scientific awakening in the UAE, it has also demonstrated the country’s commitment to multilateralism, particularly when it comes to space exploration and the data behind it.


“Since day one of this project, the direction that we’ve received from the government has been to share data from this mission openly, with everyone, and with no restrictions,” Sharaf said. “We’ve always had the intention of being open with the data collected by this mission.”

What are the upcoming phases of the Hope Probe’s journey?#HopeProbe pic.twitter.com/LVbbYdoNox

— Hope Mars Mission (@HopeMarsMission) February 1, 2021

Al-Amiri reaffirmed her country’s commitment to the Artemis Accords, an international agreement aimed at ensuring peaceful collaboration among spacefaring nations.


“International collaboration will continue to grow in space, especially with the entry of new players into the space exploration realm,” she said.


“Collaboration already existed behind a lot of space missions. Our own science team is made up of international scientists from around the world — that’s the nature of space exploration,” she added.


“We continue to be a part of that, and we’ll continue to be part of the overall international landscape when it comes to exploration in space.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WCT staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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