THE United Arab Emirates is preparing to become the first Islamic nation to launch a mission to Mars. The unmanned orbiter Hope, designed by the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Space Agency, will be sent to Mars in July 2020 from Japan, becoming the first mission to Mars from an Arab country, Yuichi Yamaura, Vice President of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said on Wednesday.Last year, religious leaders in the UAE issued a fatwa forbidding Muslims from landing on Mars. However, the robotic spaceship will not actually touch down on the Martian surface. Yamaura added that by 2018, the KhalifaSat satellite designed entirely by UAE engineers will be launched from Japan as well, using the same model of carrier rocket. The Hope orbiter program aims to extend the knowledge about Martian climate and atmosphere. A total of 150 engineers and scientists are expected to be working on the project by 2020.The UAE Space Agency was created in 2014, after the country’s authorities announced their aim to become the first Arab country to send an orbiter to Mars. Yamaura further added that they are delighted to launch the UAE Mars explorer from Japanese vehicle H-IIA at the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. Yamaura is confident that they along with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will be able to fulfil their responsibility.