President Sheikh Mohamed hails UAE’s 'historic' Moon mission before launch

Rashid rover will take the Emirates' space programme to new heights

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President Sheikh Mohamed has reviewed the UAE’s mission to the Moon, which is scheduled for launch later this year.

Sheikh Mohamed met the Emirati engineers who have been developing the mission since 2017.

The Rashid rover, a 10-kilogram four-wheel robotic vehicle, will be carried to the lunar surface on a Japanese lander, Hakuto-R Mission 1.

The mission will blast off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre during a launch window from October to December.

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This historic project is further expanding the UAE’s contribution to the space sector
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed

“I was pleased to meet with members of the Emirates Lunar Mission team,” said Sheikh Mohamed.

“This historic project is further expanding the UAE’s contribution to the space sector and enabling our people to harness their knowledge and skills to serve their country and humanity.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said the rover will land on the lunar surface in a couple of months.

“I met the team of the UAE mission that will explore the Moon,” he said.

“The Emirati explorer Rashid will land on the Moon in the coming months.

“It carries our pride in our youth and scientists, and will carry the ambitions of our people to new horizons. It will establish a new scientific stage in the history of our country from the surface of the Moon.”

The rover will explore the far-north of the Moon's near side, an area called Mare Frigoris, a Latin phrase that translates to "Sea of Cold".

Previously, Lacus Somniorum was the primary site, which was on the north-eastern part of the Moon, but that has now been changed.

Salem Al Marri, director-general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, said the mission will provide unique science data.

"Currently, we are conducting tests on the Rashid Rover in preparation for the mission, which is scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter of 2022," he said.

"The Rashid rover will land in Mare Frigoris, an unexplored area on the Moon's surface.

"This mission will make a significant contribution to the UAE’s goals for the national space programme.

"We will deliver first of its kind data, develop expert Emirati cadres and strengthen the UAE's position in the global space exploration sector through it."

If the Rashid rover lands successfully, it will carry out a number of scientific objectives.

They include studying the properties of lunar soil, the petrography and geology of the Moon, dust movement and studying the lunar surface plasma condition and photoelectron sheath.

The UAE mission relies heavily on the success of the lander, built by private company ispace inc.

It will carry the rover to the surface and provide wireless communication services, so Emirati engineers can stay in contact with it.

In April, ispace said that the development of the lander was on schedule, and that it could be shipped to the launch site in the autumn if all goes to plan.

“In January, ispace announced Q4 [the fourth quarter of 2022] as its earliest launch target with assembly and integration targeted for completion before the end of spring,” the company said on its website.

“As we enter Q2 2022, we’re pleased to announce that our development schedule is still on track with that timing.

“If all continues according to plan, we aim to begin final testing by early June, at which time, we will transport our lander from the ArianeGroup facility in Lampoldshausen (Germany) to an IABG facility (a company that tests spacecraft) in Ottobrunn near Munich, Germany, for final testing,” ispace said.

“At this pace, we plan to ship our lander to Florida by early autumn for launch preparations.”

Updated: June 16, 2022, 12:22 PM
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