The launch of a Mars orbiter in the United Arab Emirates, which has been delayed for two days, has been further delayed due to the bad weather at the Japanese launch site. The orbiter named Amal, of Hope, is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission. The launch, originally scheduled for Wednesday from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan, was already delayed until Friday. It was further delayed on Wednesday to an undetermined date, said Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the H-IIA missile supplier.
The UAE mission team said on Twitter that the launch would take place later in July. Mitsubishi said it usually announces launches at least two days before the scheduled date. Mitsubishi’s official launch, Keiji Suzuki, said earlier this week that postponement was possible because lightning and rain would occasionally be forecast in the coming days.
Heavy rain has been falling in large parts of Japan for more than a week, resulting in deadly mudslides and flooding on the southern main island of Kyushu. The hope is to reach Mars in February 2021, the year the UAE has celebrated 50 years since its inception. A successful Hope mission would be a major step for the oil-dependent economy seeking a future in space.
Hope has three instruments to study the higher atmosphere and monitor climate change, and is scheduled to spend at least two years around the red planet. The UAE says it provides a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere during different seasons for the first time. Two more Mars missions are planned in the coming days by the US and China. Japan has planned its own Martian Moon mission in 2024.