Recruiting for the space race

As UAE joins the race to reach Mars it must develop both its scientific capabilities and inspire its youth, says Ibrahim Hamza Al Qasim, the mission’s Deputy Project Manager for Strategic Planning

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and UAE University have struck a new deal to develop new ‘space graduates.’ New training programs related to space science and technology are being designed for students to accommodate the growing ‘space and technology sector’ in the UAE. 

The Centre has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Arab Emirates University to design and develop educational and training programs in scientific disciplines related to space science and technology and satellites to enable fresh graduates to meet the growing needs of the space sector. 

Vision talks to Ibrahim Hamza Al Qasim, the mission’s Deputy Project Manager for Strategic Planning, about how young leaders are at the forefront of exciting plans to send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021. 

How did the mission start and at what stage is it now?

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre started about 10 years ago. Three years after its establishment DubaiSat-1 was launched into orbit, but the main difference between the Mars mission and all our previous missions is the focus on developing our scientific capabilities. So far, we have invested a lot in developing engineering skills and in how to design and develop spacecraft for Earth observation, but the Mars mission pushed us beyond that comfort zone.

Are you collaborating with any international institutions?

Our choice of partners for the Mars mission have been LASP [Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics], a research centre within the University of Colorado Boulder, SSL [Space Sciences Laboratory], a research lab at the University of California, Berkeley, and Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Ibrahim Hamza Al Qasim Mars UAE

Our aim is to provide the first complete study of Mars’ atmosphere

How is the mission being funded?

The Mars mission was announced by the federal government’s cabinet, and it is funded by the federal government.

What does it mean for the UAE to make it to Mars?

I think it’s very special that the UAE has aimed to develop a mission to Mars. It’s an excellent example for what the youth of the region can aim for and aspire to become.