TOKYO – Final preparations for Japan’s launch of the first Mars mission to the United Arab Emirates were underway on Monday, but there was a chance of delay because of bad weather, a Japanese rocket supplier said.
The takeoff of the United Arab Emirates Mars orbiter, called Amal, or Hope, on a Japanese H-IIA rocket is scheduled for Wednesday, from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan, on what would be the first interplanetary mission. of the Arab world.
A final decision will be made Tuesday before the rocket launches, said Keiji Suzuki, director of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries launch site.
A seasonal rain front is expected to cause intermittent lightning and rain in the coming days, he said.
“But this thunder is not expected to be severe or lasting, and our assessment is that there will be a chance of launch,” said Suzuki in an online interview on Monday in Tanegashima. “We will make a careful decision based on the data.”
Heavy rains continued for more than a week in large areas of Japan, causing landslides and floods and killing more than 70 people, most of them on the main island of Kyushu in the south.
Hope should reach Mars in February 2021, the year in which the UAE celebrates 50 years since its formation. A successful Hope mission would be an important step for the oil-dependent economy that seeks a future in space.
Hope carries three instruments to study the upper atmosphere and monitor climate change and is scheduled to circle the red planet for at least two years.
Emirates Mars Mission Project Director Omran Sharaf, who attended Monday’s Dubai briefing, said the mission is not just a repeat of what other countries have done. It will provide a complete view of the Martian atmosphere during different seasons for the first time, he said.
Two more Mars missions are planned in the coming days by the United States and China. Japan has its own Martian lunar mission planned in 2024.