Dubai, Feb 10, 2021: The UAE has officially become the first Arab nation — and the fifth in the world — to reach Mars after the Hope Probe successfully entered the Red Planet’s orbit at 7.42pm.
At the Burj Plaza of Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, where a giant display screen livestreamed the scenes at the MBRSC ground station, the most tense moment was when Omran Sharaf was seen speaking to somebody on the phone, probably one from the Deep Space Network in Madrid, Spain.
At one moment — he and his engineers smiled. And that was it — the signal that indicated that the UAE had made it successfully into the orbit, accomplishing another daring feat since the time of Hope’s launch on July 20, 2020.
Everyone present at the plaza rose for a standing ovation, with people smiling from ear to ear. Congratulatory messages were sounding out aloud and silent prayers of gratitude were being sent out to the Almighty.
The President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, hailed the breakthrough. “This historic achievement would not have been possible without the persistence and determination to implement the idea that emerged at the end of 2013 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who followed it up closely until its success.”
He also praised the efforts of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in dedicating all kinds of support needed to make the dream come true. “Thanks to both leaders and the team of scientists and engineers behind the project for proving to the world that the UAE is capable of achieving the impossible.”
The President hailed the space project as the outcome of solid institutional collaboration and a bold vision that aimed to serve mankind and the international science community.
Hailing the success of the mission, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said: “The Hope probe’s historic arrival to Mars is the greatest celebration of the 50th anniversary of our country. It sets the beginning of the next 50 years with boundless ambitions and dreams.”
He added: “We dedicate our Mars achievement to the people of the UAE and the rest of the Arab world. Our success proves that Arabs are capable of reviving the region’s legacy and status in the scientific sphere.”
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said: “Hope Probe’s successful arrival to Mars is an Arab and Islamic achievement that was made possible by the relentless efforts of our youth. The mission marks our entry in the global race to space.”
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed stressed that “the Emirati youth will be the ones leading our development for the next 50 years with their acquired knowledge and skills. The Emirates Mars Mission contributed to building highly-qualified Emirati capabilities equipped to make more accomplishments in the space sector.”
The complex manoeuvre that put probe into the Martian orbit involved reversing the spacecraft and firing its six thrusters in a 27-minute burn to rapidly decelerate the spacecraft.
Now that it has entered the Martian orbit, the probe will transition to the Science phase — transmitting its first image of Mars back to Earth within just one week.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, said: “The Emirates Mars Mission drafts a new chapter in the UAE’s record of achievements in the space science sector and supports the efforts of our country to build a sustainable knowledge-based economy driven by advanced technologies.”
Millions of viewers from around the world were all tuned in on TV stations and live-streams as Hope entered the second-smallest planet in the solar system.
The success of UAE’s Maiden mission to Mars is the culmination of seven years of hard work by a group of 200 Emirati engineers and other members at partner institutes in the United States.
“The high stake mission was a heavily rehearsed, designed and tested manoeuvre,” said Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences and Science Lead of the Emirates Mars Mission.