Yesterday, the UAE announced plans for its next space mission which will explore the planet Venus before observing seven main-belt asteroids, followed by a landing on an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter, some 560 million kilometres (347 million miles) from Earth.
The latest project is scheduled for a 2028 launch, with an estimated landing in 2033. This will be the Gulf State's most ambitious space program since its successful probe in orbiting Mars earlier this year, making it the first Arab country to reach the Red Planet.
As part of its Projects of the 50, the Emirates launched today a new space mission to explore the Asteroid Belt in our solar system. The 3.6 billion km journey will fly-by Venus and seven asteroids, landing on the last asteroid – the most ambitious space mission from our region. pic.twitter.com/7q82L9Abbp
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) October 5, 2021
"Because this comes on the back of the Emirates Mars mission, it is several factors harder, rather than exponentially harder," said Sarah Al-Amiri, the head of the UAE's Space Agency and a minister of state for advanced technology.
"If we went to get this mission done from the get-go without having the background that we currently have from the Emirates Mars mission, it would be very difficult to achieve."
The launch of a new project to explore Venus and the asteroid belt sets an ambitious new goal for our country's burgeoning space programme. The UAE is determined to make a meaningful contribution to space exploration, scientific research and our understanding of the solar system. pic.twitter.com/bS7QJpK0KL
— محمد بن زايد (@MohamedBinZayed) October 5, 2021
If the asteroid landing is successful, the UAE will join the elite ranks of NASA, the European Space Agency, and Japan's JAXA who have completed the feat. It would also follow the aforementioned space agencies and the former Soviet Union in carrying out a Venus mission, which has taken place since the 1960s.
The ruler of Dubai and vice-president of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, said on Twitter yesterday that, "Our exploration of space is only beginning: more missions are on the way. We will continue investing in building our space science, engineering, astronauts, and spacecraft."
"A huge number of the stars in our night sky are named in Arabic—once again, the Arabs can look to the stars," he added.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the country's de facto ruler, also tweeted about the mission. "The launch of a new project to explore Venus and the asteroid belt sets an ambitious new goal for our country's burgeoning space programme."
"The UAE is determined to make a meaningful contribution to space exploration, scientific research and our understanding of the solar system."