Rashid rover: UAE Moon mission set for November 22 launch

The Emirati-built rover has been shipped to Florida ahead of lift-off next month

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The UAE's mission to the Moon is now scheduled to launch on November 22 from a Cape Canaveral spaceport in the US state of Florida.

Japanese lunar exploration company ispace has built the lander that will deliver the Emirati-built Rashid rover to the lunar surface.

The Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander, with the rover stored inside it, has been delivered to Cape Canaveral to be launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Previously, a launch window of November 9 to 15 was given, but ispace said the new date would allow for “best preparation”.

“In careful co-ordination with SpaceX, both sides agreed to target no earlier than November 22, 2022, for launch of the Hakuto-R M1,” the company said.

“This updated target launch date allows for best preparation for the mission when considering the fuel-loading schedule for the lander and launch date availability. An updated launch date will be announced once confirmed.”

Rashid, the first rover under the UAE's long-term Moon exploration programme, will spend one lunar day — 14 Earth days — studying lunar properties.

Once launched, it will take the lander about three months to reach the Moon. If it lands successfully, the rover will climb down a ramp and begin its exploration mission.

It will also be the first cargo mission to the Moon if all goes well.

“This mission will be a historic first not only for our company, but also for the development of the cislunar [the space between Earth and the moon] economy,” said Takeshi Hakamada, founder of ispace.

“On our first mission, we are honoured to work with Nasa to complete a commercial transaction of lunar regolith and carry payloads from agencies including Jaxa and Mbrsc (Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre) along with our commercial customers and partners.”

Dr Hamad Al Marzooqi, project manager of the Emirates Lunar Mission, said the new launch date would give them additional time to focus on the rover’s launch and landing phases.

The team have been carrying out tests on a replica of the Rashid rover in preparation for the mission.

“We hosted trial sessions to prepare our engineering team on how to remotely conduct scientific and geology research using the rover,” said Dr Al Marzooqi.

“The model of the rover for the rehearsal is similar to the flight model that will be carried by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in November.

“The test rover has received and executed daily commands via satellite communications and has successfully completed the mission control rehearsal.”

Updated: November 07, 2022, 9:15 AM