The UAE’s Hope Probe successfully entered orbit around Mars on February 9, 2021, after jetting off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center in July last year. The Hope Probe’s arrival on the Red Planet marks the UAE as the fifth country in history to reach Mars, and the first from the Arab world, reported Khaleej Times. Multiple Emirati engineers worked on the Mars mission, with women making up 34% of the team. Moreover, 80% of the science team comprised of women.
“Mission accomplished,” UAE’s vice president Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum shared on his Twitter handle as mission control in Dubai celebrated confirmation of the Hope spacecraft’s orbital insertion around Mars at 11:14AM ET.
“MOI was the most critical and dangerous part of our journey to Mars, exposing the Hope probe to stresses and pressures it has never before faced,” the mission’s project director, Omran Sharaf, said. “With this enormous milestone achieved, we are now preparing to transition to our science orbit and commence science data gathering.” The spacecraft traveled 300 million miles after being launched from Tanegashima Space Center, as Earth and Mars aligned in their orbits around the Sun. It is also the first of three missions planned to Mars this month, with a Chinese spacecraft following suit and expected to arrive today. NASA’s Perseverance rover is scheduled to enter orbit around Mars in the next few weeks.