The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai is where all the action is happening as the United Arab Emirates prepares to invest its oil wealth and use its homegrown space program to send its own astronauts to Mars. It has already invested $5.4 billion in the program, and this is one of its plans of diversification. UAE wants to explore and develop new areas of expertise.

CNN reports it has set a tentative target of 2021 to launch its first mission to the red planet and colonize the planet within 99 years. However, the time frame of Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, is to colonize Mars in 50 to 150 years.

The comprehensive plan

According to an official of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai, the country wants to create its own missions with satellites that would be developed by its own people and sent into space by the end of 2018. One satellite "KhalifaSat" is ready and is now in South Korea for final testing before moving on to Japan for launch. The United Arab Emirates has launched satellites in the past in 2009 and 2013 with the help of South Korea, but it now wants Arab engineers to take over. Incidentally, the employees at the space center are all local citizens.

The Arab country has high ambitions of sending a mission to Mars, but it lacks its own rocket technology and will have to rely on outside help.

If everything proceeds as per plan, the spacecraft could get into orbit in 2020, and land there by 2021. That is important because it will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. The purpose of the probe would be to study the atmosphere of the planet at different times of the day and during different seasons and generate data that will be useful to those who want to colonize the red planet.

UAE must overcome the hurdles

Launching a mission to a distant planet like Mars is a difficult task and the UAE will have to overcome a few hurdles. It plans to be the first to colonize the red planet by 2117 and, with this in mind, a Mars City has been created in Dubai. This will simulate life on the planet, and its first phase is scheduled to be completed by 2020.

It seems the Arab country has called for people to be trained for the astronaut program and professionals from different branches have applied. Four of them would be trained over a period by expert agencies like NASA, Roscosmos or ESA. The training could include interaction with the International Space Station.

Science Alert adds that the United Arab Emirates has plans to build the Mars Scientific City as a part of its mission to establish a human colony there by 2117. The city will consist of several futuristic domes to accommodate laboratories where work will be undertaken on how best to manage the basic requirements of life like food, energy, and water. Teams will stay inside the city for one year to develop survival strategies on a distant planet.