An Arab spacecraft takes a historic flight into orbit around Mars

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – A spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates swept triumphantly into orbit around Mars during the first interplanetary mission in the Arab world.

Heads of Mission at the Dubai Space Center in the United Arab Emirates announced on Tuesday that the craft had reached the end of its nearly seven-month, 300 million-mile journey and began circling the red planet. His name is Amal, which is Arab in hope. And it collects data on the thin atmosphere of Mars.

It took about a few minutes for the sign of success to reach Earth. The tension was great: Over the years, Mars has been the cemetery of many countries ’missions.

In the coming days, two more unmanned spacecraft will arrive on Mars from the United States and China. All three missions were launched in July to take advantage of the close alignment of Earth and Mars.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – On the first interplanetary mission in the Arab world on Tuesday, a spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates launched into orbit around Mars, with the first three robot researchers arriving on the red planet the following week and a half.

An orbit named Amal, called the Arabs of Hope, has traveled 300 million miles in nearly seven months to reach Mars with the goal of mapping its atmosphere in all seasons.

The combined orbit and landing from China are close behind it and are scheduled to reach the planet on Wednesday. He will orbit Mars until the rover separates and attempts to land on the surface in May to look for signs of ancient life.

A rover from the United States called Perseverance will join the crowd next week with the aim of landing on Feb. 18. This will be the first phase of a decade-long American-European project to bring the rocks of Mars back to Earth to examine them. evidence that the planet once hid a microscopic life within itself.

About 60% of all Mars missions ended in failure, collapsed, burned, or otherwise missed, testifying to the complexity of interplanetary travel and the difficulty of landing through the thin atmosphere of Mars.

If you pull this out, China will only be the second country to successfully land on Mars. The United States has done it eight times, the first almost 45 years ago. NASA’s rover and lander are still working on the surface.

For the UAE, this was the country’s first venture beyond Earth’s orbit, making aviation a matter of intense national pride.

For days, landmarks throughout the UAE, including Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower on Earth, lit up red for Amal’s expected arrival. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the country, which pays even more attention to Amal.

The celestial meteorological station was aimed at an exceptionally high Martian orbit, 13,670 miles 27,270 miles (22,000 kilometers 44,000 kilometers). It is designed to join six spacecraft already operating around Mars: three American, two European, and one Indian.

Amal was expected to perform a complex, high-stakes series of corners and engines to maneuver the track and reach what had previously been avoided so much.

“Anything that goes a little wrong and you lose the spaceship,” said Sarah al-Amiri, secretary of state for advanced technology and president of the UAE Space Agency.

Success would give a huge boost to the UAE’s space ambitions. The country’s first astronaut launched a missile in 2019 and traveled with the Russians to the International Space Station. This is 58 years after the Soviet Union and the United States launched astronauts.

During the development of the Amal, the UAE decided to work with more experienced partners instead of walking alone or taking the spacecraft elsewhere. Its engineers and scientists have worked with researchers from the University of Colorado, the University of California, Berkeley and Arizona State University.

The spacecraft was assembled in Boulder, Colorado, before being sent to Japan last July.

All three spacecraft heading for the red planet took off in a matter of days, taking advantage of the close alignment of Earth and Mars – bringing their arrival time close.

The construction and commissioning of the car-sized Amal cost $ 200 million; which does not include the operating costs of Mars. Chinese and American expeditions are much more complicated and expensive because of their rovers. NASA’s enduring mission totals $ 3 billion.

In the UAE, the seven skeikhdoms alliance is looking to Amal to ignite the imagination of the country’s scientists and young people and help prepare for the future when oil runs out.

“This mission was never about just reaching Mars,” said Omran Sharaf, Amal’s project manager. “Mars is just a tool to achieve a much bigger goal.”


Associated Press writer Malak Harb contributed to this report.