Dubai Airshow 2017: Space race heats up
Both projects were displayed at the DWC and have captured the imagination of attendees.
The UAE’s (Emirates) strategy to conquer Mars is something of a high-wire act which – according to the company’s website – will depend on precision and the ability of its aptly named Hope aircraft to be ready for launch when the alignment of the Earth and Mars’ respective orbits are closest together.
Such an occurrence happens once every two years, meaning that Hope has a particularly small launch window from which to make its maiden voyage in July 2020.
The expectation thereafter is that Hope will arrive on Mars in 2021. Four years of scientific observation are provisionally planned after arrival.
Before then the aircraft is expected to spend approximately 200 days on its journey from Earth to Mars – reaching a cruising speed of 126,000Km/h.
Not to be outdone, Boeing is supporting NASA to ready itself for a similar expedition, with the collaborative project being marketed with echoes of Neil Armstrong’s ‘one giant leap for mankind’ moon landing speech.
‘Today’s children will be the first explorers of our neighboring planet with help from Boeing technology to discover ground humans have yet to see.’
Boeing is a key collaborator on NASA’s Space Launch System – a project that seeks to create ‘robust human space exploration from the Moon to Mars.’ Essential to the project is their Deep Space Gateway, a habitable structure near the moon.
In April this year, Pete McGrath, director of global sales and marketing for Boeing’s space exploration division, outlined that the Deep Space Gateway was in its infancy. ‘The ability to simultaneously launch humans and cargo on SLS would allow us to assemble the gateway in four launches in the early 2020s.’
Boeing envision the Gateway as the core base from which missions to Mars can be launched and similar in style to the docking system successfully used by NASA’s International Space Station for its commercial operations.
‘The transport vehicle would be equipped with a habitat specifically designed to protect passengers from deep space’s harsh environment…’ Boeing said in a company statement.
Other than an estimate of completion of the Deep Space Gateway itself, no firm timeframe has been publicised by Boeing or NASA in relation to when a voyage to Mars can be expected.
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