Dubai Crown Prince reviews preparations for Emirates Mars Mission

Photo: WAM

Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum conducted a video conference meeting with the Hope Probe team at the Tanegashima Space Centre, Japan. He was briefed on the preparations for the Emirates Mars Mission.

Sheikh Hamdan reviewed the preparations for the Probe mission to be launched in July. The preparations for the mission launch will take place over a 50-day period.

The Dubai Crown Prince praised the efforts of the Hope Probe team and the young Emirati professionals who worked on the project. The successful transfer of the Probe from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre to its launch site in Tanegashima Space Centre proved their high level of expertise, he said. The transfer of the Probe was made possible through 83 hours of nonstop work.

Sheikh Hamdan praised the team for their efforts and said they have demonstrated to the world that nothing is impossible and that they can overcome any challenges caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sheikh Hamdan thanked the team for their stellar efforts on the historic project saying the successful transfer of the Probe to Japan amidst the challenging global environment shows their determination and commitment. The challenges created by the global COVID-19 crisis highlights the critical need for building an advanced and sustainable science and technology sector in the UAE, he pointed out.

Addressing the Hope Probe team, the Dubai Crown Prince said, "You lead the future and you represent the UAE’s hopes in the emerging phase. You must transfer your knowledge to other sectors in the country because sharing knowledge and success stories are the heart of this project."

Sheikh Hamdan affirmed that the Hope Probe is an ambitious and challenging project. The successful completion of the project will enable the United Arab Emirates to join the elite Mars explorer club, a feat accomplished by a handful of countries, he added.

He further remarked that considerable risks still exist and many challenges still need to overcome. "We are confident that we can accomplish this mission. In 2021, we will celebrate the success of our mission to Mars along with the 50th anniversary of our Union," he noted.

During the remote meeting, the team briefed Sheikh Hamdan about various aspects of the preparations for the Probe and the challenges the team overcame to transfer the Probe from Dubai to Japan.

The team overseeing the transport operations included Omran Sharaf, Director of the Emirates Mars Mission; Suhail Al Muhairi, Deputy Project Manager of the Probe Development Team; Khulood Al Harmoudi, Deputy Project Director within the Quality and Safety Assurance Team, Mohsen Al Awadi, who was responsible for the transportation of the Probe and Omar Al-Shehhi, the leader of the team responsible for transferring the Probe from Japan Airport to Tanegashima island.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, had earlier announced the success of the transfer operations on his Twitter account.

Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of the Emirates Mars Mission, thanked Sheikh Hamdan for all the support he and his team received throughout the operation. He stressed that the project was an extremely challenging endeavour right from the time of the announcement of the project. Since then, the Emirati team has acquired a wealth of knowledge and experience.

He pointed out that the successful transfer of the Probe to its launch site on Tanegashima Island in Japan was carried out according to plan in an operation that required high levels of meticulousness and precision. The success of the transfer reflects the sheer determination of the team to complete the first project of its kind in the UAE and the region, and realise the vision of the UAE's leadership.

He added that the continuous support and encouragement of the UAE's leadership and the exceptional cooperation extended by many government agencies contributed to the achievement of this milestone, which is all the more commendable considering the challenges posed by the global COVID-19 crisis. Following the arrival of the Hope Probe team in Japan, preparations for the July launch will move into high gear.

Suhail Al Dhafer Al Muhairi, Deputy Project Manager of the Probe Development Team, stressed that the support of the leadership and cooperation between government departments were instrumental in overcoming the difficulties and challenges arising from the prevailing global circumstances.

The transfer of the Probe from Dubai to Japan was completed in three phases. The first stage featured the transportation of the Probe from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre to the Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai, which lasted 12 hours, starting at 8.00 am and ending at 8.00 pm It included the preparation and loading of the shipping container specially designed for the Probe, and rehabilitating it with all the required equipment to transform it into a clean mini-mobile room that maintains a specified temperature and humidity. During this stage, the team used nitrogen to disinfect the probe and sensitive scientific devices.

This was followed by loading the mechanical ground support equipment that provided probe- supporting devices to help in the process of moving it and electronic support equipment to help monitor the state of the Probe during the flight. Then, it was transported in a special freight container on a truck that travelled at a specified slow speed to reduce vibrations. On arrival at the airport, the Probe was loaded on the plane to Japan.

The second phase featured the transfer of the Probe from Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai to Nagoya Airport in Japan. It included loading the probe and ground support equipment onto a giant Antonov 124 logistical transport plane, the largest cargo plane in the world, specially designed for the shipment of mega equipment. The flight to transport the Probe to Japan was completed in 11 hours. During this phase, the team monitored the intensity of air bumps during the plane journey to defuse any risk of damage to the structure of the Probe from severe vibrations. The team accompanying the probe delivered the Probe to the team in Japan upon arrival at Nagoya Airport.

The third stage featured the Probe’s transport from Nagoya Airport to the launch site on Tanegashima Island. In this phase, the team focused on ensuring the safety of the Probe during its transportation by land from Nagoya Airport to the port of Shimama, and finally, its transportation by sea from the port of Shimama to Tanegashima Island. After arriving at the island, the team at the launch site worked to unload and check the probe ahead of the start of launch preparations.

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