July 15, 2020 / 6:44 AM / a month ago

UAE postpones Mars mission again due to weather at Japan launch site

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates has postponed the launch of its mission to Mars for a second time due to weather conditions at the launch site in Japan, the government’s communications office said on Wednesday.

A new launch date in July will be announced soon, the statement on Twitter said.

The UAE has said the launch window extends until Aug. 3.

Its Hope probe was due to set off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre early Wednesday for a seven-month journey to the red planet, where it will orbit and send back data about the atmosphere.

But storm clouds around the site delayed the initial launch, a statement from the Mars mission said.

“The launch window has been set after careful study of the earth and Mars orbits to ensure the Hope probe arrives in the shortest period of time consuming the least levels of energy,” the statement said.

The UAE, an oil-exporting nation, first announced plans for the mission in 2014 as part of efforts to diversify away from hydrocarbons and develop a knowledge economy, aiming to reach the planet by 2021.

With a population of 9.4 million, most of whom are foreign workers, the UAE lacks the scientific and industrial base of the big space-faring nations. It launched a National Space Programme in 2017 to develop expertise in space science among Emiratis.

Hazza al-Mansouri became the first Emirati in space in September 2019 in a flight to the International Space Station.

Reporting by Yousef Saba; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Alex Richardson

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