Former NASA scientist hopes UAE Mars mission inspires young people in the Middle East

Charles Elachi, the retired director of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is helping the UAE with its Mars mission. (AFP/File)
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Updated 26 June 2020

Former NASA scientist hopes UAE Mars mission inspires young people in the Middle East

  • Charles Elachi is an advisor to the UAE Space Agency and former director of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Hope Mission expected to blast off on July 15

LOS ANGELES: A former NASA scientist advising the UAE space program said he hopes the Emirates' upcoming Mars mission will inspire young scientists in the Middle East.

The Mars Hope Mission is expected to blast off on July 15 with the aim of sending a probe to orbit the red planet.

 

 

Lending his experience as a member of the UAE Space Agency Advisory Board is Lebanese-American Charles Elachi, the retired director of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“This will be the first time a Middle Eastern country will be sending a spacecraft you know to Mars,” Elachi, who managed the launch of the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, told Arab News. “I mean the Americans, we have done that and the Russians and the Europeans, so I find that extremely exciting.”

The launch comes just a few weeks after the 35th anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan bin Salman becoming the first Arab to go to space.

“I remember meeting him,” Elachi said, recalling the prince’s 1985 expedition aboard the US Space Shuttle. “But that’s a number of years ago when that actually happened and I was very proud of having an Arab astronaut and I’m in regular communication with him even now.”

Elachi began his career at NASA when there were not opportunities to pursue space exploration in the Middle East. But he sees the Hope Mission as a return to the days when the Arab World was a leader in scientific exploration. 

“I’m seeing more and more interest in activities of young people in the Middle East who want to be involved in space,” Elachi said. “By having space agencies in the Middle East like in Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates gives them an opportunity to actually do that.”

 

When a Saudi went to space
Prince Sultan bin Salman speaks exclusively to Arab News about his 1985 NASA mission and how he became the first Arab, Muslim and royal in space

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Yemeni prisoners say they were tortured by their Houthis captors

Updated 4 min 27 sec ago

Yemeni prisoners say they were tortured by their Houthis captors

  • The men said they were subjected to physical and psychological torture from the first moment they were in jail
  • The torture included receiving electric shocks, beatings, sleep deprivation, starvation and mock executions

DUBAI: Six Yemeni prisoners recently freed from Houthi jails said they were tortured by their Houthis captors at facilities run by the Iranian-backed militia, state news agency Saba New reported.
The internationally recognized Yemeni government and the Iran-backed Houthis swapped 484 prisoners in the first phase of a deal to release hundreds of prisoners on Oct. 15.
The men said they were subjected to physical and psychological torture from the first moment they were in jail.
The torture included receiving electric shocks, beatings, sleep deprivation, starvation and mock executions, the report added.
The prisoners were also forced to admit to crimes they did not commit and were told their wives, children and mothers would also be tortured, the report added.
The freed prisoners said they spent months in overcrowded and dark cells, and then suddenly moved to brightly lit rooms, the report added.

The men suffered serious injuries, including broken bones and dislocated spinal discs.