The Dubai Space Centre is joining the race to Mars, challenging Elon Musk on his existing plans to do the same. The UAE is using its oil wealth to finance a brand new space program, with plans to launch its first mission to Mars by 2021. It then hopes to have humans settled there within the next 100 years.
Dubai’s Race to Mars
Dubai has invested a whopping Dh20 billion into the space program and its plans. The space centre is unique in that all employees are citizens of the Emirate. It hopes to diversify its economy, taking focus away from oil and gas by introducing new areas such as space. Salem Humaid Al Marri, Assistant Director General for Science and Technology at the Dubai Space Centre, explained that they want to create their own missions and develop their own satellites.
Dubai’s race to Mars will start with a satellite being sent to space by the end of this year; this satellite will be built at the Dubai Space Centre, entirely by Arab engineers. Tough the UAE has launched satellites in 2009 and 2013, these were developed by South Korean engineers.
The UAE hopes to be the first Arab state to send a mission to Mars. However, as Dubai doesn’t have its own rocket technology, it will need to rely on other companies.
The spacecraft is set to orbit Mars in 2020 and is set to reach it by 2021. This will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the UAE being founded.