The United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAE) will send a probe into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, with the goal of eventually landing on an asteroid in the early 2030s, in a mission that is sure to be a blow. major thumb for the country. private sector space companies.
The mission will launch in 2028. From there, the spacecraft will make a long and winding journey: it will travel 3.6 billion kilometers over five years, boomeranging around Venus and Earth to create sufficient speed to finally reach the asteroid belt beyond Mars in 2030 The UAE aims to land the spacecraft on an asteroid in 2033 – an ambitious goal for a country that only founded its space agency in 2014 .
If successful, the UAE Space Agency would join a very small group – including NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Japanese space agency JAXA – to land a vehicle on a planetoid. The exact scientific goals of the mission will be announced next year, but all the data the spacecraft collects could help deepen our understanding of the origins of the universe. This is because some scientists believe that asteroids are celestial remnants of the formation of the solar system.
This is the UAE’s latest and most ambitious effort, which aims to boost its national space sector. Importantly, the UAE will give priority access to contracts and procurement to UAE companies, which will benefit from the project.
Last year, the country launched the Emirates Mars Mission Hope probe, which entered orbit around Mars in February this year. This probe will spend a Martian year (687 days) in orbit around the red planet and collect data on its atmosphere.
The United Arab Emirates will also send a 22-pound lunar rover, dubbed Rashid, to the moon in 2022. This payload, which also includes technology from three private Canadian companies, will be delivered aboard the Hakuto-R lander of the Japanese space startup ispace.
Sarah Al Amiri, president of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency, said the new mission would be “on the order of five times more complex” than the mission to Mars. New challenges will include “the design and engineering of spacecraft, interplanetary navigation and the integration of complex systems”, as well as the higher performance requirements of the communication, power and propulsion systems of the spacecraft, the United Arab Emirates said in a statement.