Emirates to travel to the Moon in 2024

The initiative could be a manned mission
Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates

AFP/FAYEZ NURELDINE  -   Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) continues to deepen its space career. Following the successful launch of its mission to Mars last July from Japan, the Arab country aims to reach the moon in four years in an initiative that seeks to consolidate its strategy as a pioneering aerospace nation in the Arab world.  

The Emirates Lunar Mission hopes to launch the "first Arab mission" to the moon in 2024. Few details are known, but the Emirates state news agency WAM has revealed that it would consist of a manned mission with "national expertise"; as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, vice-president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, has also explained. Little has also been said about the mission's final objectives, although there is speculation about matters that are of great interest with respect to the lunar soil, such as the nature of the water cycle, ice formation and its volcanic history.

Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum himself has pointed out that, with the project to go to the moon, the Emirate is stepping up efforts to promote the aerospace industry in the Middle East. The Emirates Lunar Mission is part of the new 2021-2031 strategy launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, MBRSC, which includes the development and launch of the first Emirati lunar rover named "Rashid". The explorer will be designed and built in the UAE by 100 percent Emirati team of engineers, experts, and researchers. If successful, the UAE will become the first Arab country and the fourth country in the world to land on the lunar surface after the United States, Soviet Union, and China. 

Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Misión Emiratos Luna
MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL-MAKTOUM TWITTER vía AP - Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Emirates Mission to the Moon 

If the Gulf nation delivers, its mission would coincide in 2024 with the promise of the US space agency NASA to send its first astronauts (and first woman) to the Moon in over half a century through the Artemis programme. Several private initiatives such as Elon Musk's SpaceX or Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin are also working on the challenge of travelling to the moon. We have a large-scale space programme combined with an unwavering will. “What lies ahead is even more promising," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, after reviewing the strategy for the next decade of the national space centre, which bears his own name. "There will be programmes to develop new specialised satellites and an outer space simulation centre will be built for training and academic and educational programmes," the sheikh promised as part of the Emirates' commitment to the space sector.  

Both space initiatives will coexist with the project that aims to establish the first human settlement on the Red planet in 2117. "The new strategy seeks to establish a new phase of Emirati potential in the space exploration and technology fields and other related industries," the leaders said.  

The Emirates Mars Exploration Project ''Hope Probe'' 2117 Strategy includes the launch of a programme to prepare the Emirates for Mars and space exploration. The project aims to build the first city on Mars in 100 years, which will be achieved through various scientific partnerships. 

The project will be associated with research issues related to the exploration of faster transport systems to Mars, as well as housing construction and energy and food production. It will also seek to find faster methods of transport to and from Mars. 

As reported by WAM on July 12, 2020, a senior NASA scientist said the UAE's plan to build the first human settlement on Mars by 2117 would be possible. "I think we will get there," said Dr. Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Division of Planetary Science, who referred to the great interest in the Red Planet: "I would say that having several countries now [exploring Mars] has increased our ability [globally] to come and go to Mars.