What’s next now that SpaceX has launched UAE’s Rashid rover?

Now begins a challenging five-month journey to the Moon

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A SpaceX rocket has launched the UAE’s Rashid lunar rover to space after several delays.

Now, one of the most challenging parts of the Arab world’s first mission to the Moon begins, as it starts its five-month journey towards the lunar surface.

The rover is being carried by a Japanese lander called Hakuto-R Mission 1, built by private company ispace.

This is ispace’s first mission and the lander is a demonstration of technology that could pave the way for future, more complex missions should the landing be successful.

For the UAE, this also marks the beginning of the country’s long-term Moon exploration programme, with more advanced lunar missions planned.

What follows lift off?

Now that the spacecraft has separated from the SpaceX engine, ispace will ensure the lander is positioned correctly in space.

It will aim to use solar panels to capture and store energy from the Sun, to ensure the core systems of the spacecraft and its payloads, including the Rashid rover, remain in good working order.

ispace will also perform the first manoeuvre on the spacecraft and ensure the navigation systems are working properly.

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Several orbital control manoeuvres will take place in the first month, which will help show that the lander is steady for a deep-space flight.

Some of these movements will use gravitational assistance from the Sun to propel the lander closer to the Moon.

Once closer to the Moon, the lander will attempt the first lunar orbit insertion.

This will help the spacecraft enter into a lunar orbit and prepare it for a landing sequence.

Landing attempt

The toughest part will be the landing, as more than one third of missions fail at this stage.

Only the US, China and former Soviet Union have achieved a soft-landing on the Moon, with recent failed attempts by India and China.

If landing is successful, ispace will test the lander’s systems and attempt to establish steady telecoms.

Once the rover’s condition is checked, it will be sent to the lunar surface using mechanical arms on the lander.

If all systems are operating properly, the lander and Rashid rover will begin their operations on the Moon.

The rover is expected to “stay alive” for 14 days.

Updated: December 12, 2022, 7:01 AM