As the UAE watched Hope take off towards the Red Planet, officials and experts behind the mission looked back on the challenges the team had faced during the six-year journey of building the probe and all the hard work it had put in to make the mission happen.
Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Digital Economy, Artificial Intelligence and Remote Working System, said Covid-19 was the "biggest" hurdle that the Emirates Mars Mission team had to overcome.
"As you know, the team had to work backwards just to ensure that everything arrives in Japan before the launch period, and so that Covid-19 and the closure of borders do not affect the launch and the mission itself," Al Olama said.
Thanks to proper planning and "countless sleepless nights", Hope is now on its way to Mars. The minister lauded everyone who has been part of the mission, saying each member of the team has had great contributions to engineering and technology.
"This is a huge undertaking. There are three countries aiming for Mars this year. With the UAE being a newcomer, this really shows a lot. This also shows that the missions of the UAE are at par or might even exceed 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."
Hinting at future missions that the UAE is looking to undertake while building a knowledge-based economy, Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises, said: "The universe is unlimited. There are so many missions to look into."
The UAE's Mars mission wasn't only about sending Hope to the Red Planet's orbit, Al Falasi said. "Our number one mission was to create a core team that's able to work on future interplanetary missions. That's what we have achieved today.
"I cannot exactly disclose what project we'll be doing but even at the global community, the US is now looking into the moon, with Mars being the stepping stone. So, our focus is there, we haven't decided yet. But we surely have the capabilities. I would say the space community is heading to try that."
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