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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Japan's rocket H-2A launches, carrying KhalifaSat, a UAE satellite, on board. Kyodo News

UAE targets mission to Mars following KhalifaSat success

The successful launch of KhalifaSat last week is proof that the UAE’s Mars probe mission is on track, the satellite's project manager said.

Amer Al Sayegh from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, was speaking at an event to celebrate the launch of the first satellite to be completely manufactured in the UAE.

He said that the team will now turn its sights on the Mars Hope Probe project with even more confidence that it will be successfully delivered on time.

The Mars Hope Probe mission is a space exploration mission to Mars, which is expected to launch in 2020 and arrive on Mars in 2021. If it stays to schedule, its arrival will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the UAE the same year.

Mr Al Sayegh did not want to divulge any more information about the project at this stage.

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At the event, which was held at the MBRSC on Monday, the first image taken by KhalifaSat and sent to the Dubai-based headquarters was shown to members of the press.

The image was of the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, but it will be early 2019 before members of the public will be given the chance to see pictures taken by the satellite. The team said that this was to allow them time to make sure they are of "sufficiently high standard".

The role of KhalifaSat is yet to be determined, although a high-ranking official said that it would not be suitable for use as a military service tool.

“That is not what we built it for," said Ammar Al Muhairi, manager of the image processing section at MBRSC.

"It is more for helping with climate change and disasters such as oil spills, forest fires and earthquakes.

KhalifaSat was launched into space from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan on October 29, a feat that was described as “an unheralded Emirati achievement” by UAE leaders.