The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which did not have its own space agency until 2014, announced plans to establish a colony on Mars within the next hundred years.
Titled “Mars 2117,” the project was announced in a tweet by UAE prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum on February 14.
At a recent international space conference in Mexico, the country exhibited a spaceflight display as elaborate as the one presented by SpaceX, which laid out its own proposal for a Mars transportation system.
While that system’s minimal cost of $10 billion is beyond affordable for NASA and likely for the commercial sector, it is within the realm of the possible for the UAE, whose wealth, largely from petroleum sales, equals about $500 billion.
The country previously announced plans to send an uncrewed probe to Mars by 2021 and is pursuing this goal with the help of the British and French space agencies.
In a press release issued to announce its newest plans, the government of the UAE said its scientists are working with researchers worldwide to address the difficulties a Martian colony would face, including food and water production, establishing a power source, creating an environment with breathable air, and coming up with faster means of travel to and from Mars.
A crucial part of the country’s initiative is strengthening its educational system to produce young people capable of taking part in scientific research.
Within the plan is a concept for the first human city on Mars, which will be constructed by robots before human colonists arrive.
Knowledge gleaned from the project will be made available to research institutions worldwide, the plan notes.
“The new project is a seed we plant today, and we expect future generations to reap the benefits, driven by its passion for learning to unveil a new knowledge,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
“The landing of people on other planets has been a longtime dream for humans. Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality.”