The United Arab Emirates has the Red Planet in its sights, not only moving forward on a Mars orbiter but also establishing the first inhabitable human settlement on the planet by 2117.

Space visionary, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. He recently unveiled, along with Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the “Mars 2117 Project” during the 5th World Government Summit, held February 12 to 14 in Dubai.

Mars on his mind – His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Credit: Government of Dubai Media Office

“The landing of people on other planets has been a longtime dream for humans. Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said.

First phase

According to the Government of Dubai Media Office website, the first phase of the project will focus on preparing the human cadres able to achieve scientific breakthrough to facilitate the arrival of human to the Red Planet in the next decades.

The Mars 2117 Project also aims to prepare an Emiratis scientists team and to develop an international scientific consortium to speed up the research project, the website explains. “The project will start with an Emiratis scientific team and will be extended to include international scientists and researchers, in addition to streamline the human efforts in term of exploring and settlement of the red planet.”

Lifestyle on Mars

The initiative also focuses on developing faster means of transportation to and from the Red Planet, along with integrating the scientific visualization the settlement itself, and how life will be sustained there in terms of such items as food, transportation and energy supplies.

Hope Mars orbiter.
Credit: UAE Space Agency

Earlier, the website adds, an Emirati team of engineers, along with a group of scientists and researchers, have sketched out the first human city on Mars, one that would be built by robots. The plan showcased during the recently held summit highlighted the expected lifestyle on Mars in terms of transport, power production and providing food, as well as materials used for the construction of the city.

Hope orbiter

Meanwhile, UAE engineers are at work on building the “Hope” Mars orbiter. It is the Arab world’s and Muslim nation’s first spacecraft to the Red Planet in a scientific exploration mission to be lofted in 2020 via Japan’s H-2A booster.

Credit: UAE Space Agency

Hope would arrive at Mars in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. The orbiter’s science task is to search for connections between current weather and the planet’s ancient climate.

Orbital operations of the craft are to start mid-2021. Its primary science operations duration is two years, with a potential extended mission of two further years.

At the recent two-day Global Space Congress in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, Hope is on track and on time, said Mohammed Al Ahbabi, director general of UAE Space Agency.

Go to this CCTV-Plus interview recorded during the UAE Global Space Congress:

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