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Bad weather delays launch of UAE's first mission to Mars

Editor's update: On July 15, the Hope mission launch was further delayed, again due to weather concerns. A new target date will be announced within 24 hours, according to a mission statement.

Original story: The United Arab Emirates' historic first launch to Mars has been delayed two days by poor weather conditions at the launch site.

The UAE's Hope spacecraft was scheduled to blast off today (July 14) from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan aboard an H-IIA rocket before the weather interfered. The launch is now targeting Thursday (July 16) at 4:43 p.m. EDT (2043 GMT), according to a statement from the mission's official Twitter feed.

You can watch the launch live on Space.com courtesy of the UAE Space Agency and the Dubai One news channel, or directly via the latter two organizations here.

A Mars 'Hope': The UAE's 1st interplanetary spacecraft aims to make history

The United Arab Emirates' Hope Mars orbiter is now set to launch July 16, 2020 on a Japanese H-IIA rocket from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. (Image credit: MBRSC)

The $200 million spacecraft, also called the Emirates Mars Mission, represents the Arab region's first foray into interplanetary space and an ambitious step for the UAE, which first participated in a satellite launch in 2009 by partnering with a South Korean company.

If all goes well, Hope will spend about seven months traveling to Mars, arriving in early 2021. Then, the spacecraft will orbit over the Red Planet's equator for a full Mars year (nearly two Earth years) studying the planet's weather and atmosphere.

The spacecraft is one of three bound for Mars in the next few weeks, during the precious orbital alignment when the Red Planet is easier to reach from Earth: China's Tianwen-1 lander and NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover are also on the launch docket later this month.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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