UAE Moon mission: Rashid rover integrated with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket for launch

Weather on the Space Coast looks suitable for take-off, with clear skies but periodic clouds expected

The Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander, which has the UAE's Rashid rover on board. Photo: ispace
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Follow the latest news on the UAE's Rashid Rover moon launch

The Japanese lunar lander with a UAE-built rover on board has been integrated onto a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the launch on Wednesday.

SpaceX will attempt to launch the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander, developed by private company ispace, at 12.39pm UAE time, from the Launch Complex 40 pad at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The National is on the Space Coast and will be covering the launch live.

The 10kg Rashid rover is one of many government and commercial payloads that the lander is carrying, with a landing attempt on the Moon expected at the end of April.

“We are pleased to have finished the first phase of the Mission 1 with the final preparations before launch completed,” said Takeshi Hakamada, founder of ispace.

“We have achieved so much in the six short years since we first began conceptualising this project in 2016.”

Rashid rover's journey — in pictures

The weather on the Space Coast so far looks suitable for a launch, with clear skies but periodic clouds expected.

There is only a four per cent chance of rain.

This will be the 55th launch for SpaceX this year. The company's reusable Falcon 9 rocket has a very high success rate.

This is the UAE's first Moon mission, with more rovers to be developed in the future.

The Rashid rover has been built by engineers from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.

A core team of 11 are behind the mission’s development and have been working on it since 2017.

It has been named in honour of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed, the former Ruler of Dubai, and the father of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

Ispace will attempt to land the mission in the Atlas crater in the Mare Frigoris site, located in the far-north of the Moon’s near side.

The Rashid rover will spend one lunar day exploring the area, capturing scientific data and images.

It will study the properties of lunar soil, the petrography and geology of the Moon, dust movement, and study surface plasma conditions and the Moon's photoelectron sheath.

Lunar dust, or regolith, is one of the main challenges astronauts face on the Moon.

It was during the Apollo missions that scientists learnt how lunar dust stuck to spacesuits, causing erosion and operational problems.

The launch on Wednesday will be streamed live by SpaceX.

Updated: November 30, 2022, 4:30 AM