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Hope Probe Transferred to Japan, Despite COVID-19

The world's largest cargo plane transported the Hope probe from Dubai to Japan on an 11-hour journey

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Hope Probe


The UAE Space Agency and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced the successful completion of the Hope probe’s transfer to its launch site at the space station on Tanegashima Island in Japan, despite the COVID-19 pandemic challenges presented.

Positive message

Dr. Ahmed bin Abdullah Hamid Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency confirmed that with the successful completion of the transfer of the Hope probe from Dubai to Japan, the UAE is sending a positive message to the world by moving forward with the Emirates Mars Mission, as planned previously, despite the challenges resulting from the global coronavirus pandemic.

His Excellency added: “We would like to take this opportunity to extend our highest gratitude and appreciation to the wise leadership of the UAE for their continuous and unlimited support on this project to explore Mars and the national team of young women and men dedicated to this project.”

“Nothing is Impossible”, in word and in action

Her Excellency Sara Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, Deputy Project Manager of EMM, pointed out that the Emirates Mars Mission is part of the UAE’s accelerated developmental journey to further establish itself as a leader in space science and exploration.

She added: “Today, we must celebrate the scientific achievement of our engineers, scientists and technicians. This milestone will become an integral part of the UAE’s history that we collectively take pride in. This project will become the largest scientific addition to the Arab World’s notable achievements in the space and sciences industry.”

Her Excellency extended her appreciation to the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, Dubai Police, the UAE embassy in Japan, and Akihiko Nakajima, the Japanese Ambassador to the UAE, in facilitating the process of transferring the Probe from Dubai to Japan.

Specific Space Mission

Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of the Emirates Mars Mission Project, stressed that the project represents a great challenge since the day the UAE announced its launch. Since then, the Emirati team have cultivated a wealth of knowledge and experiences.

He pointed out that the successful transfer of the probe to its launch site on Tanegashima Island in Japan is done according to plan and at the highest levels of accuracy, which reflects the keenness of the team to complete the first project of its kind in the UAE and the region to achieve the vision of the UAE’s leadership.

He added that the ongoing support and motivation received from the UAE’s leadership and the great cooperation from many government agencies contributed to achieving this milestone, which comes despite the challenges posed by the novel COVID-19. He concluded that after the arrival of the Hope probe in Japan, the team will begin preparing for the launch that will take place this July.

Stages Of The Probe Transport

The journey of moving the Hope probe from Dubai to the launch site on Tanegashima Island in Japan went through three major phases. It required the activation of specific scientific procedures and the provision of integrated logistical conditions to ensure the completion of the process of the probe in an optimal manner.

The First Phase

The first stage included the transportation of the probe from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center to the Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai, which lasted 12 hours, from 8 am to 8 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 be as a clean mini-mobile room that maintains the specified temperature and humidity, and works on using nitrogen to disinfect the probe and sensitive scientific devices from any dust particles in the air.

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This was followed by loading the mechanical ground support equipment represented by the 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 in addition to its use in preparations for launch. Then, it was transported in a special freight container on a truck carrying the probe at a slow pace and at a specified speed to reduce the percentage of vibrations, all the way to equipping the container at the airport and loading it on the plane.

The Second Phase

The second phase extended from Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai to Nagoya Airport in Japan. It included loading the probe and ground support equipment to the giant Antonov 124 logistical transport plane intended for the shipment of mega equipment, which is the largest cargo plane in the world, and continued to Japan for 11 hours. The team also monitored the intensity of the air bumps where severe vibrations would affect the structure of the probe. The team accompanying the probe delivered it to the team in Japan upon arrival at Nagoya Airport.

The Third Phase

As for the third stage, it extended from Nagoya Airport to the launch site on Tanegashima Island, and included carefully landing the probe from the plane, examining the probe and ensuring its safety, then transporting the probe by land from Nagoya Airport to the port of Shimama, and finally, moving it by sea from the port of Shimama to Tanegashima Island. After arriving to the port on the island, the team at the launch site worked to unload and check the probe before starting to prepare for the launch.

The Supervising Team

The team overseeing the transport operations included Omran Sharaf, Emirates Mars Mission project manager, Suhail Al Muhairi, Deputy Project Manager from the Probe Development Team, Khulood Al Harmoudi, Deputy Project Director from the Quality and Safety Assurance Team, and Mohsen Al Awadi, responsible for the transportation of the probe in the Probe Development Team, and Omar Al-Shehhi from the Probe Development Team, Leader of the transportation team from Japan Airport to Tanegashima Island.

Global Best Practices

In light of the challenges posed by COVID-19 during the transfer of the Hope probe from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center to Al Maktoum International Airport to Japan and then to the launch station – the best global health procedures were followed in order to preserve the health and safety of the team, as well as the team accompanying the probe on its flight to Japan. In addition, there was a third team that traveled early and underwent quarantine procedures in Japan to be able to receive the probe upon arrival, to oversee its transportation to the launch station into space.

The Hope probe is a national project that translates the vision of the United Arab Emirates’ leadership to build an Emirati space program that reflects the nation’s commitment to strengthening the frameworks of international cooperation and partnership with a view to finding solutions to global challenges for the good of humanity.

It is planned that the Hope probe’s mission to Mars will start in mid-July 2020 from the Tanegashima Space Center using the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI H2A) platform and is expected to reach the Red Planet’s orbit in the first quarter (February) of the year 2021.

The Hope probe, the first Arab project to explore other planets, carries a message of hope for all peoples of the region, in a way that contributes to reviving the rich history of Arab and Islamic achievements in all sciences. The Hope probe embodies the aspirations of the UAE, and its leadership’s continuous pursuit of challenging and overcoming the impossible and consolidating this trend as a firm value in the identity of the state and the culture of its people. The Emirates Mars Mission is also an Emirati contribution to shaping and making a promising future for humanity.

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