Thursday , December 2 2021

How the Emirates want to conquer space


At 17:00 Central European time, the United Arab Emirates will enter orbit around Mars – the first of three human missions to Mars that will take place to our neighboring planet in 2020. The “Hope Probe” mission is a special space mission, especially since the Emirates are relatively new to the space business.

It was not until July 2009 that the country launched its first Earth observation satellite into space. At that time, a South Korean satellite manufacturer had to help with the development of DubaiSat-1. The satellite was launched into space with a Ukrainian launcher. Well, not even twelve years later, the first Arab mission to Mars reaches the red planet. Also this time, the Emirates relied on foreign launch technology. They developed the Hope space probe themselves.

Hope for the Arab youth

Fatma Hussain Lootah is the head of instrument science at the mission. It is clear to them that the mission name is a message. Regardless of whether you are looking at the English or Arabic name “al-Amal”, which translates as “hope”. “It’s called Hope Probe. When His Highness Muhammad bin Raschid, the ruler of Dubai, announced the name, it was very specific. It should be a message of hope to you, especially in the Arab region, where we sometimes have sensitive issues. “

The government set another sign with the arrival of Mars. This year, the country will celebrate a major anniversary. Fifty years ago, it declared its independence. Anniversary and success of space travel play together.

Mars is just a medium

In order for this to work, the Emirates had to bring hard rocket science into their own country. Simply giving the orders to other foreign companies was not an option. Mohsen Al Awadhi is the mission’s chief mission system engineer and recalls one of the government’s earliest messages: “One thing they themselves said at the beginning: Mars is not the ultimate goal. Reaching Mars does not mean that mission is successful “For us, it means that the knowledge transfer of this mission is important for the leadership.”

Al Awadhi can say with a clear conscience that the country has succeeded very well in acquiring the necessary space knowledge. As far as he knew, three different teams were set up for this purpose. “Over the past six years, there have been three different teams: One team was based in Dubai and was responsible for the analysis and implementation of data. Another team that went back and forth between the academic partners we met in the “UAE and the US had traveled. You played a really big part in this mission.”

Knowledge transfer from the US

And then there was the third team, which also included Al Awadhi. He and his colleagues lived in the United States between 2015 and 2020. They were engineers and scientists from the United Arab Emirates who wanted to learn as much as possible about American space technologies. You need to bring this knowledge with you home. The former aerospace and new aerospace engineer says, “The requirement was: you will not buy this. You will build it. You will know how to design it. You will know how to operate it. And then collect the data. and publish the scientific information. “

These were tough conditions, as most companies had no problem building the spaceship and teaching them how to operate it. But Al Awadhi and everyone else in his team needed someone else. Someone who actually shows them how to build a spaceflight and someone who explains the architecture behind it.

Is the brake maneuver successful?

The hard work of the Arab engineers and scientists has paid off. You actually reach an orbit of Mars. But the biggest challenge still lies ahead: they have to brake at a speed of about 16,000 kilometers per hour. They are currently traveling at more than hundreds of thousands of kilometers per hour through space. The spacecraft will start the braking force autonomously. The process should be completed after 27 minutes. Al Awadhi, Lootah and the entire United Arab Emirates will not find out if that is successful until eleven minutes later. This is how much time the signal needs from the probe to the earth.

If the maneuver does not work for some reason, the mission is over. It burns either in the Martian atmosphere or flies past the red planet. But even then, the mission would still be a great success for the young space nation. Lootah and her scientific colleagues are also excited. “Even we as scientists are very nervous and excited and our whole focus is now on the MOI phase. And we are hoping for a successful Mars introduction so that we can continue the scientific journey of Hope Probe.” – The Moi phase stands for “Mars Orbit Insertion”, which means the entry into a stable orbit.

This is not expected to start until April. The Emirates also has ambitious plans for the future. They are currently planning a monthly mission with a lander. They also want to colonize Mars. Unlike SpaceX founder Elon Musk, the Arab colonization of Mars will not take place until 2117.

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