UAE's Hope probe transmits its first signal from space orbit
Scroll down for updates from the historic launch
The best weather condition for launch. Waiting for the launch in the morning light. Image courtesy Dubai media Office Twitter handle.
By Nandini Sircar, Sahim Salim and Juidin Bernarrd, Khaleej Times
UAE has made history as the #FirstArabicCountdown launched its Hope orbiter to space.
"Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has launched the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No.42 carrying UAE's Mars probe "HOPE" at 6:58:14 on July. 20, 2020 JST from the Tanegashima Space Centre," the rocket launch operator said.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has launched the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No.42 carrying UAE's Mars probe "HOPE" at 6:58:14 on July. 20, 2020 JST from the Tanegashima Space Center. #H2AF42
1: 51am - #FirstArabicCountdown in minutes, can you hear it?
The weather is perfect, the Hope probe launch has received its final 'Go' command and the launch teams are all set for a smooth liftoff.
The Arab world is waiting with bated breath to hear the #FirstArabicCountdown that will launch Hope to space. Stay tuned to hear the historic countdown that will launch the Arab world's first interplanetary mission.
1: 38am - All systems 'Go' for Hope launch: Minutes left for #FirstArabicCountdown
The Hope probe launch team has received its final 'Go' command for the launch. "In 20 minutes, the first Arab interplanetary mission will launch on its epic journey to Mars. This is History in the making," the Hope Mars Mission team tweeted.
We have received the final 'Go' command for the launch. In 20 minutes, the first Arab interplanetary mission will launch on its epic journey to Mars. This is History in the making. #HopeMarsMission
1:17am - Perfect day for launch, says Hope Mars Mission team
The weather conditions around the Hope probe's launch pad in Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre are perfect for a launch, the Hope Mars Mission team has said. The probe is set to take off to Mars in under an hour.
MHI Launch Services, the operator of the rocket that will take Hope to space, said earlier: "The best weather condition for launch."
1:10am- It's a 'Go' for 1-hour countdown to Hope probe launch
The Hope probe launch team has got a 'Go' command for the 60-minute countdown. "The green light has been given to the X-60 minutes terminal countdown operation," the operator of the rocket that will take Hope to space said. "The best weather condition for launch. Waiting for the launch in the morning light," it added.
???60?????????????????????????It is 60 minutes before launch. The final countdown operation has started. #H2AF42
12:55am - For us, Hope mission is already a success: UAE minister
For the UAE, the Emirates Mars Mission is already a success, a UAE minister has said an hour before its launch from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre.
"We are very positive. We expect the unexpected, but for us it's already a success. We already have a wonderful team," said Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises.
He explained that the mission launch was delayed twice due to foul weather in Japan and not due to technical or logistical issues. "A space mission launch can be delayed due to three reasons: Technical, logistical or foul weather. With SpaceX, the rocket was about to launch but it was postponed due to a technical issue. The Russian-European mission (to Mars) was delayed by two years due to logistical issues caused by Covid-19. In our case, the delay was not due to technical or logistical issues, but purely due to weather-related ones," he explained.
12:50am - UAE has a core team that can work on more space missions: Minister
The UAE's primary mission is a create a "core team" that can work on future interplanetary missions, a UAE minister has said. "That's what we have achieved today," Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises, told Khaleej Times.
When asked about the UAE's future space plans, the minister said: "The global space community led by the US is looking at the moon as a stepping stone to Mars. Our focus is there, but we haven't decided yet. But we surely have the capabilities."
12:47am - Hope mission control team in Dubai all set for launch
The ground control team of the Hope probe at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre has completed all preparations for launch.
11:55pm - When Sheikh Mohammed first announced Hope Mars Mission
The Hope Mars Mission team has shared a video which starts off with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, first announcing the Mars mission in 2014.
The video then shows the Hope probe's engineering process and the epic 83-hour journey that transported it from Dubai to its launch pad in Japan despite Covid-19-triggered border closures.
11: 30pm - Photos: Can you feel the excitement of Hope probe launch?
With just a couple of more hours to go for the Hope probe launch, the Mars mission control room in Dubai's Al Khawaneej is abuzz with excitement and anticipation. The launch at 1.58am would mark the Arab world's first interplanetary space mission.
11:20pm - Mars stares back at us from a clear sky: Hope probe team
The Hope Mars Mission team has posted photos showing the Hope probe rocket all set for launch against a clear night sky. It also posted a photo of Mars clearly visible in the sky.
"The Hope Probe is all set to start its journey, while its destination, Mars, stares back at us in a clear night sky," the team tweeted.
It's the night before a new dawn. The Hope Probe is all set to start its journey, while its destination, Mars, stares back at us in a clear night sky. This is history in the making. #HopeMarsMissionpic.twitter.com/1I1b2TUsfO
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Launch Services, which will operate the launch vehicle, had tweeted the same photos earlier, saying the launch team can see Mars "well tonight".
11.11pm - Look: Abu Dhabi landmarks light up to celebrate launch
Landmarks in Abu Dhabi are putting up a stunning show to celebrate the launch of the UAE's Hope probe to Mars. The animation features countdown in both Arabic and English. For the first time in history, a countdown in Arabic will launch a space mission when Hope probe takes off at 1.58am.
In a historic moment for the UAE, #AbuDhabi's iconic buildings light up to express pride in celebration of the Emirates Mars Mission carrying the #HopeProbe on a 7-month journey to Mars, where it will be the 1st probe to take a complete 'picture' of the red planet's atmosphere. pic.twitter.com/mmv5E5VAGz
11.05pm - Weather good so far, says Emirates Mars Mission manager
The weather conditions around the launch site of the Hope probe in Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre are "good so far", Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of the Emirates Mars Mission, has said. "We will keep monitoring and keeping an eye on the weather," he said.
Foul weather in Japan has delayed the launch of the probe twice. It is now scheduled to blast off to space at 1.58am.
Addressing journalists at the Hope Mars Mission control room in Dubai's Al Khawaneej, Sharaf explained that the mission has two teams: One in Japan and the other in Dubai.
"The team in Japan will make sure that the spacecraft is ready for launch. We have three sub-teams in Dubai taking care of things here. The first team is the operational one. The second team consists of engineers who check the status of the spacecraft system. The third team will be looking into data assessment and planning different scenarios based on it and providing it to the operations team."
10.35pm - From working on UAE's first nanosatellite to helping launch Hope
The first space mission that young space scientist Fatma Lootah worked on was on Nayif1 - the UAE's first nanosatellite. Today she is Instrument Science Engineer with the Emirates Mars Mission and her primary job would be to monitor data from the Hope probe's Ultraviolet Spectrometer.
Talking about her journey to becoming a space scientist, the Emirati said she pursued chemical engineering in college. "We used to drive past the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and I used to be very curious about the kind of work they did. I mean, what's more exciting than space? That's how I got into this field," she said.
10.25pm - Team spent countless sleepless nights to beat Covid-19 challenges: Minister
The biggest challenge for the Emirates Mars Mission was Covid-19, a UAE minister has said. The team had to "work backwards" to ensure that the launch requirements were met.
Talking to journalists at the Hope Mars Mission control room in Dubai's Al Khawaneej, Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, said: "Covid-19 and the closure of borders did not affect the launch and the mission itself thanks to proper planning and the countless sleepless nights that the team spent."
10.01pm - Excited about this huge undertaking, says UAE minister
The UAE's Mars mission is a huge undertaking and there is a lot of excitement around its launch, a UAE minister has said.
Talking to journalists at the Hope Mars Mission control room in Dubai's Al Khawaneej, Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, said: "There are three countries aiming for Mars this year - the US, China and the UAE. Despite being the newcomer, the UAE's mission is at par with countries that actually have a legacy in the space sector. We are excited to see the outcomes with regards to the human capital of this programme. Everybody who has been a part of this programme has had great contributions to engineering and technology."
9.50pm - Inside Hope Mars Mission control room in Dubai
This is the Hope Mars Mission control room in Dubai's Al Khawaneej where 21 engineers from the UAE Space Agency and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre are stationed.
The ground station will guide the Hope probe towards the Red Planet and maintain its contact with Earth. The team will monitor Hope and take control of the probe - right from the moment it separates from its rocket an hour after its launch until it reaches the Martian orbit.
In the first 30 days, the engineers will be doing round-the-clock shifts to record every data the probe generates. The team will also ensure that the probe's solar panels capture enough energy to power its batteries for the 495,000,000km journey to Mars.
9.09pm - Burj Khalifa lights up with #FirstArabicCountdown
Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, has lit up with a countdown in Arabic to celebrate the launch of the UAE's Hope probe to Mars.
The stunning show on the world's largest LED screen featured a male voice doing the countdown in Arabic.
It then cuts into an animated video showing the rocket launch that will take Hope to space.
8.49pm- Hope probe launch team can see 'Mars well'
The Emirates Mars Mission launch team on the ground at Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre can see Mars "well tonight".
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Launch Services tweeted that the terminal countdown operation is proceeding smoothly as planned. A terminal countdown is a simulation of the final hours of a launch countdown.
??????????????????·??????????????????????????????????????Under the beautiful starry sky, the terminal countdown operation is proceeding smoothly as planned. We can see Mars well tonight. #H2AF42pic.twitter.com/D9I3YRAiUF
8.33pm - Hope probe's journey from Earth to Martian orbit explained
The Hope Mars Mission team has shared a video in which Mohsen Al Awadhi, mission systems engineer, explains how the Hope probe will reach its Martian orbit.
This is the brief explanation he gave: The launch vehicle from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre will take the probe to space. After separation, the Hope probe will be turned on for the first time. The team on the ground will hear the first signal soon after. The solar panels on the probe will be deployed and it will then look for the sun to charge its batteries. The seven-month journey to Mars then begins.
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