The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced an exciting space mission to send a spacecraft to an asteroid, located a whopping 5 billion kilometers away.
The mission is called the “Emirates Project to Explore the Asteroid Belt” and was officially unveiled by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The event took place at Qasr Al Wattan.
The MBR Explorer spacecraft is named after Sheikh Mohammed himself. It will embark on an incredible 13-year journey to visit seven different asteroids.
Sheikh Mohammed described this project as one of the most important ones in the field of space exploration. He explained that it will involve six years of development and then seven years of actual space exploration.
Taking to Twitter, Sheikh Mohammed emphasized that it is a huge national scientific endeavor and a one-of-a-kind research and knowledge project globally.
بحمدالله أطلقنا في قصر الوطن التفاصيل العلمية لأحد أهم مشاريعنا في مجال الفضاء "مشروع الإمارات لاستكشاف حزام الكويكبات " . المشروع يستمر 13 عاماً.. 6 سنوات للتطوير و7 سنوات رحلة استكشاف.. ستقطع خلالها المركبة الاماراتية MBR Explorer ٥ مليار كيلومتر متجاوزة كوكب المريخ لاستشكاف… pic.twitter.com/C0peR7JAMe
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) May 29, 2023
MBR Explorer will go on a journey that is ten times farther than the one taken by the Hope Probe, which flew to Mars.
Along its path, the spacecraft will visit seven different asteroids, 10253 Westerwald, 623 Chimaera, 13294 Rockox, 88055, 23871, 59980, and 269 Justitia.
The UAE Space Agency has revealed that the mission is scheduled for launch in March 2028. The MBR Explorer will use gravity-assist maneuvers around Venus, Earth, and Mars, which will help change the spacecraft’s velocity and support its flyby campaign.
The MBR will have its first encounter with an asteroid in February 2030. After that, it will continue flybys until 2034.
The seventh asteroid encounter will be important because the spacecraft will actually land on it. Once it lands, a lander will be released to gather important scientific data from the surface of the asteroid.