UAE Mars Probe to be Launched on Japanese Rocket

H-IIA launch (Credit: JAXA)
H-IIA launch (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO & DUBAI, UAE (MHI/MBRSC PR)–Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (TOKYO:7011) (MHI) has received an order for H-IIA launch services from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for launch of the Emirates Mars Mission’s (EMM) Hope spacecraft.

In order to better understand the Martian atmosphere and climate, Hope is expected to be launched in the summer of 2020 on MHI’s H-IIA launch vehicle, and is set to arrive at Mars in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. This order for the EMM marks MHI’s fourth overseas contract for its launch services.

The UAE Space Agency (UAESA) takes administrative and financial responsibility for the EMM, and MBRSC is responsible for leading the design and development of Hope, as well as the execution of all phases of EMM, which includes technical coordination with the H-IIA launch vehicle.

The previous three orders received by MHI from overseas customers involved the 2012 launch of the Korea Multipurpose Satellite-3 (KOMPSAT-3) for the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), the 2015 launch of the TELSTAR 12 VANTAGE communications and broadcasting satellite for Telesat Canada, and launch of the KhalifaSat for MBRSC, planned in 2018.

MBRSC, or the former Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST), was newly established by the Dubai Government in 2006. The Space Centre is working to develop the science and technology sectors in the region, which include research and development in satellite manufacturing and systems development, and Earth observation through satellite images.

The H-IIA rocket is the most current and reliable launcher in Japan. MHI believes the H-IIA has a strong advantage with its high success rate of 96.7 percent (29 successful launches among 30 flights). It also has a brilliant on-time launch history in past flights, to customers’ great satisfaction.

MHI has been playing an important role in Japan’s development of space launch vehicles since a national program was started in Japan in 1975. Following technology transfer from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), MHI has been placed in charge of all aspects from manufacturing to launching satellites from the H-IIA No.13 (launched in September 2007) and the H-IIB No.4 (launched in August 2013).

With this partnership with the UAE to launch the EMM’s Hope spacecraft, MHI pledges to make full-fledged efforts so as not only to enhance the space industry in Japan, but also to make various contributions to the UAE’s endeavors in space-related activities.

About Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is one of the world’s leading heavy machinery manufacturers, with consolidated sales of 3,992.1 billion yen in fiscal 2014, the year ended March 31, 2015. MHI’s diverse lineup of products and services encompasses shipbuilding, power plants, chemical plants, environmental equipment, steel structures, industrial and general machinery, aircraft, space systems and air-conditioning systems.

For more information, please visit the MHI website (

  • Wow, a first for the Japanese. Congrats!

    I wonder who is actually footing the bill for the rocket?

  • Aerospike

    I’m pretty sure the UAE can easily afford a few of those rockets…. that is a unless nuclear fusion has a breakthrough tomorrow and nobody buys oil anymore 😉

  • Yeah, that actually concerns me. If UAE placed the but Japan actually paid for it, that would be a traditional teaming arrangement (like ExoMars). There’s a big difference when Northrup (smart money) buys Scaled Composites vs when UAE (dumb money) dumps money into Virgin Galactic. This appears to be another ill-advised prestige project for the UAE – like a Burj Khalifa or any other number of projects that are undertaken when someone has “too much” money.

    When India does a project like this, they are demonstrating launch prowess to potential clients, employing their own scientists, and keeping up with the Jones in China and Japan. This seems to be “space program in a box – just add money.” This could be indicative of a space finance bubble that may be hitting in the next few years if serious returns don’t start appearing.

    Japan has not successfully done a Mars mission to my knowledge (Nozomi didn’t work), they aren’t a natural partner for this. None of this make sense in a traditional way, and I’m concerned about too much “me too” space efforts. We know that not all of the current New Space companies won’t succeed, but when you have both Silicon Valley AND sovereign wealth funds juicing the sector, that seems to be an indication that disaster is closer than we think.

  • Aerospike

    Not sure what you are worried about?

    *) As I read the PR article, UAE buys a rocket directly from MHI. If this was a cooperation agreement and Japan pays for the rocket, then I assume Japan or JAXA would have placed the order.
    All information that I can find online says that UAE would buy a rocket from an international contractor (that of course wasn’t known previously).

    *) This has nothing to do with a commercial bubble. This is a UAE national prestige project. No bubbles to burst here. If they want to do this to show the world “how great they are”, I’m all ok with that. There are worse ways of displaying strength 😉

    *) The Nozomi Spacecraft may have failed, but The H-IIA is a very reliable launcher, and almost 10 times as powerful as the rocket that launched Nozomi. I think that H-IIA can probably boost Hope directly into a Mars transfer orbit, eliminating the need for the complex moon flybys required by Nozomi. So I don’t understand why you think that “Japan” is not a natural partner for this (besides the fact that Japan isn’t a partner here, MHI is.

    *) The probe itself will be designed and built by the UAE themselves as far as I know. With some collaboration by US universities. Again, Japan’s past success at Mars does not relate to the UAE’s mission.