TOKYO – The launch of a United Arab Emirates Mars orbiter, already delayed two days, has been postponed further due to bad weather at the Japanese launch site.
The orbiter named Amal, or Hope, is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission. The launch, initially scheduled for Wednesday from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan, had already been postponed until Friday. It was delayed further on Wednesday to an unspecified date, said Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the provider of the H-IIA rocket.
The UAE mission team said on Twitter that the launch would occur later in July. Mitsubishi said it usually announces launches at least two days before the scheduled date.
Mitsubishi launch official Keiji Suzuki said earlier this week that a postponement was possible because intermittent lightning and rain were forecast over the next few days.
Heavy rain has fallen for more than a week in large areas of Japan, triggering deadly mudslides and floods on the southern main 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. 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.