London, 31 May 2023.- UAE Space Agency announced on the 28th of May the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt, the EMA. The concept plan of the mission to the main asteroid belt began in 2019. The Emirati spacecraft will take a 5 billion km trip to a region between Mars and Jupiter to study asteroids.
“The initial idea of what should we do after the Emirates Mars Mission actually started one or two years prior to the launch of the Hope probe,” Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology, and chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, exclusively told The National on Wednesday.
It took four years for the project to be planned. The project became known as Max for Multiple Asteroid Exploration. The project involves the MBR Explorer, a spacecraft named after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
It will be a 13-year mission, with six years to develop the spacecraft and then a seven year flight to the belt. The MBR Explorer will fly by six asteroids and then attempt a landing on the seventh one. It will perform fly-bys of Venus, Earth and Mars on the way to the asteroid belt.
The agency hopes that more than 50% of the spacecraft will be developed by private companies in the UAE, in collaboration with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder – the same organisation that helped build the Hope probe.
A Dh3 billion National Space Fund has been launched to help expand the private space scene in the country.