While most of us were lazing around playing video games or catching up on chores over the weekend, NASA spent its Sunday announcing a new agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The agreement will see both nations collaborate on a range of space project and aeronautical researching — including the possibility of a cooperative mission to Mars.
“NASA is leading an ambitious journey to Mars that includes partnerships with the private sector and many international partners,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “I am confident this new framework agreement with the UAE Space Agency will help advance this journey.”
The UAE Space Agency (UAESA) has been open about its plans to land an unmanned probe on Mars by the year 2021, which just so happens to mark the nation’s fiftieth anniversary. NASA, for its part, wants to land American astronauts on Mars sometime in the 2030s. Together it’s a match made in… well, the heavens.
“The reason why cooperation and collaboration are important to the UAESA is because we believe that working alongside international partners is the best way to accelerate the development of space technologies and the space sector within the UAE,” said UAE Space Agency Chairman Dr. Khalifa Al Romaithi.
Speaking to Digital Trends about the newly-announced collaboration, American astronautics engineer and co-founder of The Planetary Society Louis D. Friedman said that the exploration of Mars should be a human mission — and not confined to any one nation.
“It must be that of Earth, not just of any single nation or company,” he says. “It will be advanced and enabled by international cooperation and the efforts by NASA to lead on this Journey to Mars are a welcome step forward.”
Friedman observes that international collaboration has been in NASA’s DNA dating back to the original Space Act in 1958. This has so far led to great global projects like the International Space Station and International Halley Watch. Here in 2016, global global initiatives like this meeting of the minds are a must-have in the modern space race.
“It is a complex effort to build an international effort, but worth the cost politically, economically, and technically,” Friedman says.