The United Arab Emirates Announces Plans For a Human Colony on Mars by 2117

Wednesday, 17 May 2017 - 3:04PM
Space
Solar System
Mars
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 - 3:04PM
The United Arab Emirates Announces Plans For a Human Colony on Mars by 2117
Image credit: Dubai government media office
The Mars 2117 Project is the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) plan to have a functional human colony on Mars by the year 2117. This ambitious goal has sparked a long list of questions and concerns: "Why?" and "How?", just to name a couple. The UAE announced their intention to create this colony in February, and ever since the announcement has been shrouded in mystery. But recently, Al Gergawi, Program Director of the Mars 2117 program at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), convened this past week with representatives from the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA, and others at the Humans to Mars summit in Washington, D.C. and discussed plans for the project. 
Image Credit: Dubai government media office

The UAE plans to collaborate with other entities (both private/commercial and national) to create their colony. According to Dr. Khalifa Al Romaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, "The United Arab Emirates and the United States of America are long-standing allies and have deep economic, cultural and diplomatic ties...We at the UAE Space Agency genuinely welcome the opportunity to collaborate and work with the USA and NASA in the fields of aeronautics, space science, and the peaceful exploration of outer space toward the common goal of fostering the well-being of humankind." 
Image Credit: Dubai government media office

Now, as you can see from some of the photos made public, there are some models of this future colony. However, this project is more theoretical, at least right now, than some others. While SpaceX might not have the funding necessary to complete their goals, they are adamant that they can at least reach Mars by 2026. Not taking into account any plans for future colonies, future living possibilities, etc., this doesn't seem at first glance like an impossible goal.

The Martian space race has many more interested parties, of course, including NASA. The space organization thinks that they might be capable of reaching the planet by the 2030's. All of these plans (and others) have their strengths and weaknesses: the UAE's plan is ambitious, well thought-out in terms of the construction of the colony, but perhaps reaching a bit too far with too little information and capacity to even reach the planet. SpaceX's plan lays out realistic and plausible details surrounding ships that could take us to Mars. However, details surrounding how they plan to keep people alive and well during the journey and once they've arrived are a little bit shakier. This is, as mentioned before, in addition to the lack of support and funding. Finally, NASA's Journey to Mars. Many are critical of NASA's efforts for lacking strict deadlines and specifics that would make their goals seem more concrete. 

So, will we get to Mars? Within our lifetime? Within the next ten to twenty years? Well...maybe. What it might come down to is good old-fashioned cooperation. Where one entity lacks funding the other lacks engineering prowess. Where one lacks vision the other lacks a clear path and deadline. Thankfully, at least according to what was discussed at the Humans to Mars summit, the prospect of teamwork isn't too far-fetched. Hopefully, these plans will continue to develop, and Mars will change from a far-off alien land to a tangible destination. 
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