Next month, ordinary, earthbound members of the public will be given the chance to become part of an incredible journey into space. While they won't be blasting off into the cosmos, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai is offering schoolchildren, university students and others a unique insight to the scientific goals of the Emirates Mars Mission's ground-breaking Hope Probe. Under the banner of Emirates Mars Mission Science Week, a special programme of events will be held during the first week of July, explaining in detail the high-tech methods the probe will use to collect valuable data about the Red Planet.
The Hope Probe will be overseen at every level of its design, development and launch by the UAE Space Agency. It is scheduled to lift off from Japan in July 2020 and reach Mars by 2021, to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the nation. The probe is aptly named, encapsulating the innovation and optimism that has, in less than half a century, made the country what it is today. What's more, it is part of a broader space programme being run by the UAE. Much has been written about the nation's plans to establish a settlement on Mars by 2117. However, in the more immediate future, the countdown began last week for the first Emirati astronaut to join the International Space Station.
On September 25, the Russian Soyuz MS-15 is set to launch from Baikanor Space Centre in Kazakhstan, taking Hazza Al Mansouri, mission commander Oleg Skripochka and Nasa astronaut Jessica Meir on this historic voyage. Painstaking preparations continue to be made by Mr Al Mansouri and back-up Emirati crew member Sultan Al Neyadi at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia’s Star City, including riding in a powerful centrifuge to simulate the massive gravitational forces of lift-off and landing. It may all sound terrifying, but the training will allow Mr Al Mansouri to claim his place among the 230 people who have already gazed down at Earth from the International Space Station. While most of us will never be fortunate enough to join this elite group, we can still watch in awe as the nation makes its galactic ambitions a reality.