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MBR Explorer: UAE’s new space mission to explore asteroid belt

Scheduled for launch in 2028, the spacecraft, named MBR Explorer, will embark on a seven-year voyage.

MBR Explorer: UAE’s new space mission to explore asteroid belt
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

The UAE has revealed its newest space expedition, aiming to explore the asteroid belt. This venture entails dispatching an independent spacecraft equipped with collapsible solar panels to the region between Mars and Jupiter.

The spacecraft, named MBR Explorer, will launch in 2028 and will travel for seven years. It is named after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

“The UAE project to explore the asteroid belt is a huge national scientific project and a unique global research and knowledge project,” said Sheikh Mohammed, who announced the mission on Twitter.

According to the ruler, the project encompasses various key components, such as the establishment of private Emirati companies specializing in space technology, the creation of a ground control center dedicated to managing deep space missions, and the provision of training opportunities for fresh Emirati graduates seeking to pursue careers in this sector.

“The UAE can venture far into space, covering five billion kilometers for one reason: its belief in its youth and its empowerment of its citizens,” Sheikh Mohammed added.

The UAE Space Agency has stated that the mission will focus on exploring seven asteroids within the belt. Its primary goal is to land on Justitia, an asteroid known for its unique ultra-red characteristics. Notably, the MBR Explorer will travel a distance ten times greater than that of the UAE’s Hope Probe, which has been in orbit since 2021.

“The main scientific goal is to study the origin and evolution of the asteroid belt and asteroids that show signs of water,” said Hoor Al Mazmi, Deputy Project Scientist at the UAE Space Agency.

In the meantime, Sarah bin Yousif Al Amiri, the UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, emphasized that the revelation marks a pivotal moment in space exploration—a groundbreaking mission involving a comprehensive tour of the asteroid belt and the deployment of a lander onto an asteroid. She further highlighted the overarching objective, which is to enhance our comprehension of the fundamental composition of the solar system.

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