UAE's Rashid rover Moon mission launch confirmed for November 28

Rover will lift off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 12.46pm GST

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The UAE has begun the countdown to the launch of the first Emirati mission to the Moon after a new date and time for lift-off was announced.

Japanese lunar exploration company ispace, which will deliver the UAE's Rashid rover on its Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander, has set a target launch date of November 28, with lift off at 12.46pm GST (9.46am UTC).

The launch window is subject to the weather.

The mission will lift off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Space Launch Complex 40 launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

It is a historic mission for the UAE, Japan and private industry, with ispace on track to become the first company to carry out a commercial cargo mission to the Moon.

Takeshi Hakamada, founder of ispace, announced the new launch date on Thursday at mission control in Tokyo.

“Our first mission will lay the groundwork for unleashing the Moon’s potential and transforming it into a robust and vibrant economic system,” he said.

The countdown clock to the launch of the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander, which will have the UAE's Rashid rover on board. Photo: ispace

The Rashid rover is one of many government and commercial payloads that will travel to the Moon on Mission 1.

Weighing 10kg, the rover was built by a small team of Emiratis at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai.

The four-wheel rover will spend one lunar day, equal to 14 Earth days, on the Moon's surface to study its geology and lunar dust. It is expected to take thousands of images of its surroundings with high-resolution cameras.

Emirati engineers behind the mission are in Florida to make final preparations for the launch.

What happens on launch day?

On launch day, the Falcon 9 rocket will take the lander into orbit, from where it will begin its solo journey to the Moon.

The reusable rocket generates a thrust of more than 771 tonnes at sea level to blast off into space.

Mission milestones for Hakuto-R Mission 1 lunar lander. Photo: ispace

It is expected that the lander will reach the Moon by the end of April.

The mission will attempt to land on the Atlas Crater, on the south-eastern outer edge of the Mare Frigoris, or Sea of Cold.

“Careful consideration of the target site criteria included continuous sun-illumination duration and communication visibility from the Earth,” ispace said.

Busy times on the Moon

Ispace is one of several missions that have set eyes on the Moon.

Nasa's $4.1 billion Artemis 1 mission launched on Wednesday, after several delays caused by technical issues and two hurricanes.

US company Astrobotic Technology plans to launch its Peregrine lunar lander early next year, with payloads from eight countries.

Updated: November 17, 2022, 9:22 AM
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