UAE pushes for global co-operation in space and potential Mars colony

Outpost on Mars and female astronauts will be up for discussion at Expo 2020 Dubai

The first image of Mars taken by the UAE's Hope probe, which arrived to the planet on February 9. EPA
The first image of Mars taken by the UAE's Hope probe, which arrived to the planet on February 9. EPA

The UAE on Wednesday pushed for more international co-operation in space and announced plans for talks in Dubai this year that will focus on increasing the number of female astronauts and setting up a Mars colony.

The UAE ambassador to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh, said a week of space-related discussions from October 17 to 23 at Expo 2020 Dubai would include plans to conquer the Red Planet, as well as other topics.

“We will look at issues ranging from gender equality and space programmes to technology for living on Mars to remote sensing” for achieving UN sustainability targets, Ms Nusseibeh said.

“Space Week will ... hash out critical governance questions, connect companies seeking partners and innovation, and inspire the public to creatively explore how space can better serve the common good.”

Ms Nusseibeh spoke at UN talks co-hosted by the UAE and Italy, two of the eight founding members of the Artemis Accords – an international pact for Moon exploration announced by the US space agency Nasa last October.

“We believe that harnessing the power of space really has the potential to open new avenues for tackling some of our greatest collective challenges,” she told the online gathering of diplomats and space company executives.

“But to do so, we must resist the temptation to close our doors, our networks and borders in pursuit of national advantage.”

Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology and chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, told those in attendance that the ongoing Emirates Mars Mission was an example of space co-operation, because it was made possible with help from the US and South Korea.

The Hope probe, which began orbiting Mars on February 9 and activated its instruments on April 10, has already sent back thousands of images and data on the Martian atmosphere.

“The Emirates couldn’t have established its space sector without a private and public partnership. But more importantly, ours spanned continents and it spanned different nations,” Ms Al Amiri said.

“We continue to leverage space exploration as a mechanism not only to develop capability and capacity but to further enhance international collaboration so that we can further the agenda of scientific understanding together as one world.”

Space Week will be held during Expo 2020 Dubai, which was pushed back to October 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Expo is expected to attract 25 million visitors and thousands of companies from 192 countries.

The event will feature a space show at Al Wasl Dome – the world’s largest 360-degree projection screen.

Updated: May 28, 2021 10:41 AM

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