The world's overall success rate in Mars missions is less than 50-50, but the UAE intends to beat those odds.
The United Arab Emirates announced plans Wednesday to send the first unmanned Arab spaceship to Mars in 2021. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of the UAE's emirate of Dubai, said the mission would prove the Arab world is still capable of delivering scientific contributions to humanity, despite the many conflicts across the Middle East.
For years, the UAE has been pushing Arab League nations to create a pan-Arab space agency similar to the European Space Agency. "Our region is a region of civilization. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilize," said Al Maktoum.
The UAE said that its unmanned probe would take nine months and cross more than 37 million miles (60 million kilometers) on its journey to Mars. If this mission were to be a success, it would make the emirates one of only nine countries with space programs to attempt to explore the red planet. The government neglected to say how much the program is expected to cost, but said the space agency would report to the Cabinet and be financially and administratively independent otherwise.
Comprised of seven emirates, the UAE said that its investments in space technologies already exceed 20 billion dirham, or roughly $5.4 billion. The figure includes investments in satellite data, mobile satellite communications and earth mapping and observation. A formal Cabinet statement said the space technologies industry is estimated to be worth around $300 billion globally, and is increasingly important to the security of nations.
Al Maktoum said his country chose the epic challenge of reaching Mars because it inspires and motivates. "The moment we stop taking on such challenges is the moment we stop moving forward," he said.
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Source: ABC News