Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy launches rocket carrying UAE's Mars orbiter

TOKYO, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. on Monday launched a rocket carrying a Mars orbiter developed by the United Arab Emirates.

At 6:58 a.m. local time, the H2A rocket carrying the Hope explorer blasted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

The 1.5-ton Hope explorer, which measures 2.9 meters in length and 2.37 meters in width, was developed at Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai. It is expected to reach orbit around Mars in 2021 to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE.

The launch was originally set for last Wednesday, but was postponed due to bad weather at the launch site.

The mission, which will see the explorer travel for seven months and cover 493.5 million km until it reaches Mars' orbit next year, is the first of its kind by a Middle Eastern country.

The orbiter will stay within a range of between 20,000 to 40,000 km above Mars' surface, where it will collect data on the planet's atmosphere and moisture conditions, with any changes in conditions on Mars being logged.

In an online press conference, while thanking Japan for supporting the endeavor, project manager Omran Sharaf said the inaugural probe's broader objective was aimed at developing the country's space sector so that more investment could be garnered for a knowledge-based economy that was less dependent on oil.

It is the fourth time for the Japanese company to use the H2A rocket to launch a foreign satellite into space and the 36th consecutive time an H2A rocket has been launched successfully.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, officials in Minamitane Town, where the launch pad is located, closed areas normally reserved for people to watch a rocket launch. Enditem

[ Editor: ZY ]