Another nation takes aim at Mars: the United Arab Emirates

One thing that’s interesting about this is it will be the first attempt at a Mars shot by a nation which does not have its own launch program, highlighting the growth of the international commercial launch industry — it could effectively be the first commercial flight to Mars, unless UAE is bold enough to want to develop a deep space capable rocket in just a few years. They’ve released this video, seemingly inspired by NASA’s “seven minutes of terror” video about the Curiosity mission, which incorporates a detailed spacecraft animation describing launch and insertion into the Hohmann Transfer Orbit, but I would expect it to be more suggestive than descriptive at this point; the launch vehicle does not appear to be any existing vehicle, and they are probably a ways off from selecting a launch provider.

It’s certainly an interesting move, bound to get attention from their neighbors.  But they have some very concrete science goals for this mission as well, and although their work will duplicate some of what MAVEN is doing now, they’re going to be looking at things in a different way, so the data set should be complimentary rather than competitive.  I wish them the very best of luck; it just gets harder from here.

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