SpaceX plans December 11 for UAE's Rashid rover launch

Original launch delayed due to technical issues with SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket

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Elon Musk's SpaceX is now targeting December 11 for the launch of the UAE's Rashid lunar rover.

The launch has been delayed several times. The November 30 launch was cancelled after SpaceX found technical issues with its Falcon 9 rocket hours before lift-off.

Japanese company ispace built the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander, which will deliver the Rashid rover to the Moon, with a landing expected at the end of April.

The mission is now scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11.38am, UAE time, on December 11.

"The initial launch attempt of the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lunar lander was postponed, allowing SpaceX to perform additional pre-flight checks of the launch vehicle," ispace said on Wednesday.

"ispace’s Mission 1 lunar lander was integrated into the SpaceX Falcon 9 fairing and battery charging operations for the lander will continue.

"No issues with the lander itself have been identified. As of today, no major operational changes are planned, with lunar landing scheduled for the end of April, 2023."

Inside the US 'Space Coast' from where historic UAE missions will lift-off

Inside the US 'Space Coast' from where historic UAE missions will lift-off

The launch will depend on weather conditions and technical status of the launch vehicle and payload.

Weather forecasts show that it will be mostly clear skies at the time of launch, with few clouds and low winds.

SpaceX's job will be to deliver the lander to its intended orbit in space and then it will begin its solo journey to the Moon, with the Rashid rover stored safely inside it.

A new mission control centre at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre ― the organisation that built the rover ― will be able to monitor the rover's health throughout the journey and during its 14-day stay on the Moon.

Once on the lunar surface, the rover will begin studying an unexplored region of the Moon and will gather data on the Moon's soil, dust and electrically charged particles. It is expected to take thousands of images.

The launch can be viewed live on SpaceX's website and social media channels.

Updated: December 12, 2022, 7:00 AM