The Muslim world seems to be fast becoming part of the global space race as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey reach new milestones in space exploration. On February 9, 2021, the UAE’s first mission to Mars safely landed on the red planet, marking a first for the Arab and Muslim world. The same day, Turkey unveiled an ambitious space program that intends to send astronauts to the moon.

UAE’s Mars mission, named the Hope Probe, is the fifth in the world to successfully reach Mars. The Emirates Mars Mission launched the Hope Probe from a Japanese space center. The mission cost around $ 200 million, and was led by a team comprising 80% women.

The Chair of the UAE Space Agency and the Emirati Minister of State for Advanced Sciences Sarah Al-Amiri said the country is “comfortably waiting, anxiously anticipating our entry into space exploration as a nation.” She added that the Hope Probe would enable the UAE to start sending data about the Martian atmosphere and climate, in order to study daily and seasonal changes.

UAE’s space agency claims that it aims for settlement on Mars by 2117. Its Mars mission is part of the UAE’s broader expansion into scientific exploration, which will help distribute its economic dependence to sources other than oil.

Meanwhile, the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and China launched their Mars missions soon after the UAE’s in July last year, which are scheduled to reach Mars this month.

Turkey takes to the moon

On February 9, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the curtain to Turkey’s 10-year space program that aims to send Turkish astronauts to the moon.

“The first rough landing will be made on the moon with our national and authentic hybrid rocket that shall be launched into orbit in the end of 2023 through international cooperation,” said Erdogan.

“Our primary and most important goal for our national space program is the contact of the Republic, in its 100th year, with the moon,” he added. “God willing, we are going to the moon.”

The Turkish leader also announced plans to launch a “spaceport,” creating a “global brand” in satellite technology.

“I hope that this roadmap, which will carry Turkey to the top league in the global space race, will come to life successfully,” he said.

Turkey established the Turkish Space Agency (TUA) in 2018, joining the limited ranks of countries with prestigious space programs. Last month, President Erdogan also spoke with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to discuss his possible cooperation on space technologies with Turkish companies.


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