The cost of the Hope Mars Mission was almost Dh735 million, senior UAE government officials revealed on Tuesday.
Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, made the announcement during a media briefing.
It is the Arab world’s first mission to Mars and was built by more than 150 Emirati engineers, scientists and researchers, with the help of three American universities.
“We were able to accomplish the Hope probe, from the idea to the launch, within just six years. Similar missions take at least 10 years,” Mr Al Gergawi said.
“The cost of the probe amounted to $200 million, which is considered among the lowest in the world compared to similar missions and projects – all thanks to the efforts of our engineers, research and scientific cadres, the sons and daughters of the Emirates who put their passion and faith in this project.”
Today, the mission also reached another milestone, when the spacecraft was positioned on to the rocket that will send it into space.
Hope was mounted on Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H-IIA rocket this week by a team of Emirati engineers at the launch site in Tanegashima Island, Japan.
“The encapsulation and the transfer of the probe to the rocket is a vital step in our historic mission. The process entails continuous monitoring and detailed testing to ensure that all systems are functioning to optimum levels,” said Omar Al Shehhi, the integration and spacecraft testing lead of the mission.
The probe was first encapsulated into the payload fairing – an external structure that protects the spacecraft – and then it was mounted securely on to the launch vehicle.
The next step is to charge the spacecraft and set it for take-off.
This stage of the mission also included functional tests of the craft’s subsystems, such as measuring the electrical power, communication, altitude control, command and control, propulsion, thermal control and software systems.
“Each and every stage and step – from encapsulation to getting it mounted on the rocket – is extremely critical,” said Mohammed Wali, the launch team’s deputy project manager.
“The encapsulation is a proud and emotional moment for the Hope probe project team. After six years of hard work, our Probe is one step closer to launch.”
About an hour after the launch, the probe will be separated from the launch rocket and the solar panels will become functional – beginning its seven-month journey towards the Red Planet.
The launch will take place at 12.51am, UAE time, on July 15 and will be streamed live on the social media channels of Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.