The United Arab Emirates launched its first interplanetary space mission on Monday - one that will send a spacecraft called 'Hope' to the red planet, Mars. Rocket manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said that, "We have launched the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 42 (H-IIA F42) carrying aboard the Emirates Mars Mission's (EMM) HOPE spacecraft at 6:58:14 (JST) (2158GMT)".
Hope Mars Mission tweeted as, "We have lift-off. H2A, the rocket carrying the Hope Probe to space, has launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan." Here is the tweet.
The main aim of Emirates Mars Mission is to provide a global snapshot of the Red Planet's atmosphere. "Hope" is expected to enter the orbit of Mars by February 2021 and the country celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding in December of 2021.
According to NASA, "In October, Mars will be a comparatively short 38.6 million miles (62.07 million kilometers) from Earth." The space craft is lifted off from Tanegashima Space Center, located on an island off the southern coast of the country. Around an hour after the launch, the H-IIA rocket will deploy Hope in space, sending it on its way to Mars.
Tianwen-1 from China and Mars 2020 from the United States are also racing to the red planet along with the Emirati Mission, taking advantage of the moment when the Earth and Mars are closest.
Jim Bridenstine took to his Twitter and wrote "Congrats to the team that worked on @HopeMarsMission. It’s truly amazing what @UAESpaceAgency & @MBRSpaceCentre have accomplished in such a short time. Hope is exactly what the world needs and thank you to the UAE & @MHI_Group for inspiring all of you."
He further said that, "We are in awe of the speed and dedication of the UAE, both through the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center and the UAE Space Agency, to the construction of the first interplanetary spacecraft. We are also pleased to help NASA's Deep Space Network connect with Hope."
NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover tweeted as, "To the @HopeMarsMission: Congratulations on your launch! I wish you a successful journey and look forward to the sol when we are both exploring Mars." Here is the tweet.