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UAE plans to send first Arab spacecraft to Mars by 2021

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Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates wants the Islamic world to set its sights on the stars and he wants a spacecraft that is worthy of a mission to Mars to launch within a decade.

"Our region is a region of civilization. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilize," Mr. Al Maktoum, who is also UAE's vice president, said in a statement, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

If all goes according to plan, a ship created by a pan-Arab space agency will head for Mars by 2021.

The seven emirates, which already spend $5.4 billion on space programs, envision a day when UAE spacecraft will successfully make the 37 million mile journey to Mars. The success rate for such missions since the 1960s has been less than 50 percent, AP reported. The U.S. success rate has been 70 percent.

President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan, the ruler of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, added Wednesday that a UAE Mars probe would represent "the Islamic world's entry into the era of space exploration," AP reported.

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