Jul 22, 2014 06:44 AM EDT
The United Arab Emirates intends to celebrate its golden jubilee with a mission to Mars -- literally.
The country announced Wednesday it would send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021, according to a Wall Street Journal blog.
"The U.A.E. Mars probe represents the Islamic world's entry into the era of space exploration," said United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the WSJ. "We will prove that we are capable of delivering new scientific contributions to humanity."
The country hopes to make the space industry one of its main economic sources and will create a Space Agency to manage the project, according to Al Jazeera. If successful, it will join the list of a handful of countries that have been to Mars.
Time reports that while a department to oversee the program doesn't exist yet, the recent purchase of one-third of a private space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, proves the UAE's commitment.
Although parts of the project may be outsourced, the mission would still be theirs, John Logsdon, a space policy expert and professor emeritus at George Washington University, told Time.
The Indpendent reported that the UAE has already spent more than $5 billion in space technologies.
"The UAE has already been active in space with communications satellites and Earth observation satellites," Logsdon said. "They have purchased satellites and launch services from other countries."
In addition, the country's wealth and history of achievements in the STEM fields prove a successful combination. The country is currently home to the world's largest building, largest indoor ski resort, and the invention of algebra, according to Time.
"Our region is a region of civilization. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilize," said Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to the Independent.
Despite the announced plans, no information about a budget or the specific plans for the mission have been released.
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