Rocket carrying UAE's Hope probe prepared for launch pad

The Japanese-built H-IIA will be manoeuvered onto the launch site on Tuesday

The rocket set to carry the UAE’s Hope probe into space this week will be manoeuvered onto the launch pad for the first time on Tuesday.

Engineers from Mitshubishi Heavy Industries, the Japanese multi-national that built the system, said the countdown for blast-off was on schedule.

Hope’s mission to explore Mars is a first for the Arab world and is viewed as a major step forward for the Emirates’ burgeoning space sector.

If all goes to plan, the rocket and its payload will take off from Tanegashima Island in Japan on July 15 at 12.51am UAE time.

“There is concern about rain and lightning from the afternoon of the 14th until the launch time,” said Keiji Suzuki, director of the Mitsubishi launch site service team.

“But we will proceed as planned while judging the weather conditions.”

He said that any thunderstorms over the site were not expected to last long.

Once delivered into space on board the H-IIA rocket, the Hope probe will begin its journey to the Red Planet.

The journey of millions of kilometres is expected to take around 200 days, with the timing of the launch designed to take advantage of Mars’ relatively close proximity to Earth.

Amer Al Sayegh, the senior director of space engineering at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai, said preparations for the take-off looked good.

“We have regular meetings that will always give us the updates on the mission, but so far everything sounds very appealing for a smooth launch early Wednesday,” he told The National.

“As we get closer to the launch, several other checks are being conducted.”

Updated: July 13, 2020 05:18 PM

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