The UAE's Mars project Hope is on track while the work on the Dh500-million Mars City in Dubai has started and will be completed in 30-month time, said a senior official of the UAE Space Agency.
Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, director-general, UAE Space Agency, said budget and area has been allocated for the project and will be completed in two-and-a-half years.
The Mars City is the largest space stimulation city ever built in the world and a realistic model to simulate living on the surface of Mars. It will consist of several domes, with innovative construction techniques providing support for the structures. The project encompasses laboratories for food, energy and water, as well as agricultural testing and studies about food security in the future.
It will also contain a Mars museum and specialised science laboratories. Speaking to Khaleej Times at Dubai Airshow , Al Ahbabi revealed that the UAE will start selection process of astronauts for the space flight from the next year and the priority will be given to the UAE citizens.
The Hope probe is slated to be launched in 2020, but reach Mars and begin to orbit the planet in 2021, to coincide with the UAE's 50th anniversary.
"The UAE's space sector to contribute towards knowledge-based economy and also to position us a leader in advanced technologies and industries," he said, adding that currently, three UAE universities are providing degrees in the field of space.
With a total size of $6 billion (Dh22 billion), the UAE's space sector is the largest in the region in terms of investment, capabilities, maturity, knowledge, experience, he added.
He said the UAE is drafting space law that covers aims and objectives of national space exploration projects, including peaceful exploration of space and peaceful application of space technologies. It will also address advanced concepts that are emerging within the field such as ownership of natural resources found in space.