Rashid rover: Heartbreak at Dubai mission control as lunar landing failed

Expressions of hope on faces quickly faded when historic mission was lost

Dr Sara Al Maeeni, communication lead at the Emirates Lunar Mission, after learning that the Rashid rover had failed to land safely. Photo: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre
Powered by automated translation

New footage shows the moment Emirati engineers and scientists learnt that the spacecraft carrying the Rashid rover had crashed on the Moon during a landing attempt.

The Hakuto-R M1 spacecraft, built by Japan's ispace, crash landed on the lunar surface on Tuesday, failing to deliver the UAE-built rover and other international payloads.

In a new video, released by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, cheerful and hopeful expressions quickly turn to sorrow the moment ispace announced that contact with the spacecraft has been lost.

A core team of about 11 Emiratis spent almost five years building the 10kg rover, which was meant to spend 14 days studying an unexplored region of the Moon.

Footage shows Dr Sara Al Maeeni, communication lead and project scientist with the mission, holding her face in her hands when the mission failure news was announced.

Abdullah Al Shehi, mechanical lead of the rover, is also seen covering his face with his hands.

Dr Hamad Al Marzooqi, the manager of the mission, also appeared in the video where he learnt contact was lost.

But Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, chairman of MBRSC, was quick to console the upset engineers and scientists with encouraging words.

"There are some things that require a certain amount of patience. Thank you. You have worked hard," he said.

"For us, regardless of the outcome of the four or five-year mission, you are the treasure that makes us proud.

"As a first-of-its-kind mission in the Arab and Islamic world, this is significant. May Allah bless you."

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of MBRSC, paid a visit to the space centre yesterday.

Sheikh Mohammed formally announced the development of Rashid 2, the second rover under the country's long-term Moon exploration programme.

Engineers have already been working on the rover and had secured a Chinese lander for it, but it is unclear whether that is still happening.

It is crucial for MBRSC to secure a lander to be able to send the rover to the Moon.

A lunar lander is a type of spacecraft that is able to voyage to and land on the Moon using its propulsion system, with rovers and other payloads stored safely inside.

Even though the Rashid rover did not make it safely to the lunar surface, Emirati engineers gained a wealth of data that can be used for future missions.

Rashid was the first Arab rover to enter lunar orbit.

Updated: April 27, 2023, 10:37 AM