13 Jul 2020

Final launch preparations under way for UAE Mars Mission

The National
Final launch preparations under way for UAE Mars Mission
Final preparations are under way at the launch site for the UAE Mars Mission in Japan's Tanegashima Island. The Hope probe was placed inside this payload fairing last week and was transferred to building where the rocket is kept.

The rocket carrying UAE’s Hope probe to space will soon be rolled out onto the launch pad at the Tanegashima island in Japan.

The final preparations are gathering pace ahead of the first Arab mission to the Red Planet on Wednesday, July 15.

Last week, the Hope probe was placed into the payload fairing – a nose cone structure that protects the craft – and was moved to the assembly building where the core part of the H-IIA rocket is kept.

The payload fairing will be mounted on top of the core, which will be followed by the rocket roll out.

The transportation of the rocket – which is a two-stage launcher – from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad at the Yoshinobu Launch Complex takes 30 to 40 minutes.

According to weather forecasts, it will continue to rain and be cloudy for the upcoming week.

However, space officials and engineers with the Emirates Mars Mission said the launch remains on schedule for July 15, at 12.51am (UAE time).

Viewing events that are organised by local authorities in Tanegashima have been suspended and signs have been placed in popular viewing spots, asking the public to keep a 3km distance from the space centre on launch day and the day after.

The move is part of the safety measures taken by officials to limit the risks posed by Covid-19.

Eight Emirati engineers who have been there since April are working with the launch provider, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, to ensure the launch goes smoothly.

Space officials, including the UAE Space Agency director-general and deputy project manager of the Emirates Mars Mission, will also be attending the launch.

They must first complete the mandatory 15-day quarantine.

Mars mission will leave lasting legacy

Omran Sharaf, project manager for the Emirates Mars Mission, believes the country's latest journey to space will be a boost to the entire region.

"We are actually building the capacity and capability in advanced sciences in the UAE and the region. This is something important for everyone. It will help the region to have stability and a more competitive economy and integrate more with the global community," Mr Sharaf told state news agency, Wam.

"Having a stable region is very important for the world. Having a strong national and regional economy is important for global community.

"That’s why the UAE called the mission ‘Hope’ as it will make such an impact, but you cannot measure it today or tomorrow, you will see it in 10 or 15 years."

"When it comes to science of the mission, we will have the first holistic view of the Martian atmosphere at different times of the day and various seasons. Global scientific community will get such data for the first time.

"We are serving the humanity by bringing this new knowledge, which they did not have before. Such knowledge will help us understand more about our own planet."

Launch progress so far:

· Transportation of Hope spacecraft to Tanegashima Space Centre

· Assembly of stage one of the H-IIA rocket

· Second stage of the rocket assembled onto the first stage

· Final checks carried out on spacecraft, including fuel leakage tests

· Fitting test with payload fairing

· Spacecraft fuelled with 800kgs of hydrogen

· Encapsulated into the payload fairing

· Transported from the Spacecraft Fairing and Assembly Building to the Vehicle Assembly Building

The check-list for July 15

· The payload fairing will be mounted on top of the rocket

· More weather checks before rocket is rolled out to the launch pad

· Rocket to be rolled out to the launch pad

· Launch day and hourly weather checks

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