TOKYO (AFP) – A Japanese rocket carrying the first Arab mission to Mars will blast into space next Monday (July 20), after being delayed by bad weather, the launch company said on Friday.
The lift-off of the United Arab Emirates’ “Hope” probe, originally planned for Wednesday, is now set for 6.58am next Monday from Tanegashima Space Centre in southern Japan, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said.
The UAE, made up of seven emirates, is set to be the first Arab nation to send a probe to Mars.
The probe is one of three racing to the Red Planet, with Chinese and US rockets also taking advantage of the Earth and Mars being unusually close: a mere hop of 55 million kilometres (34 million miles).
“Hope” – “Al-Amal” in Arabic – is expected to start orbiting Mars by February 2021, marking the 50th anniversary of the unification of the UAE.
Once there, it will loop the planet for a whole Martian year of 687 Earth days.
The goal is to provide a comprehensive image of weather dynamics in the Red Planet’s atmosphere.