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UAE plans unmanned mission to Mars by 2021

Government says UAE Space Agency will be created to coordinate its space technology sector and supervise Mars mission.

Last updated: 16 Jul 2014 14:18
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US space agency NASA successfully launched the Curiosity Mars rover in November, 2011 [AP/NASA]

The United Arab Emirates announced it will create a space agency with the aim of sending the first Arab unmanned probe to Mars by 2021.

An Emirati government statement on Wednesday said the UAE investments in space technologies had already topped $5.44bn, AFP news agency reported.

"The UAE has entered the space race with a project to send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021 in the Arab world's first mission to another planet," said an Emirati government statement on Wednesday.

It has added that a UAE Space Agency is to be created to drive the project.

"We chose the epic challenge of reaching Mars because epic challenges inspire us and motivate us," said the UAE vice president and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

The country has Al-Yah Satellite Communications, a satellite data and television broadcast company, mobile satellite communication company Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications, and Earth mapping and observation system Dubai Sat.

The new agency will coordinate the country's space technology sector and supervise the probe mission which will take nine months to make the journey to Mars.

The United Arab Emirates, a seven-emirate federation formed in 1971, will become the ninth country in the world with space programmes to explore the Red Planet, according to the statement.

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AFP
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