TOKYO (AP) – The liftoff of a United Arab Emirates’ Mars orbiter, postponed due to bad weather at the launch site in southern Japan, is now set for Monday.
The orbiter named Amal, or Hope, is the Arab worldâ€™s first interplanetary mission. The launch, initially scheduled for Wednesday from the Tanegashima Space Center, has been reset for 6:58 a.m. Monday (2158 GMT Sunday), said Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the provider of the H-IIA rocket.
Mitsubishi, however, said there is a slight chance of further postponement depending on the weather. The company has set a launch window through Aug. 13.
Heavy rain has drenched large areas of Japan for more than a week, triggering deadly mudslides and floods on the main southern island of Kyushu.
Hope is to reach Mars in February 2021, the year the UAE celebrates 50 years since its formation. A successful Hope mission would be a major step for the oil-dependent economy seeking a future in space.
Hope carries three instruments to study the upper atmosphere and monitor climate change and is scheduled to circle the red planet for at least two years. The UAE says it will provide a complete view of the Martian atmosphere during different seasons for the first time.
Two other Mars missions are planned in coming days by the U.S. and China. Japan has its own Martian moon mission planned in 2024.
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