UAE's Rashid Moon rover mission given new launch date

Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre says November 30 launch depends on 'weather status'

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The UAE has pushed back the launch of its Moon mission by two days.

The launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida was scheduled to take place at lunchtime on Monday, but has been moved to Wednesday, November 30, 12:39pm UAE time.

The mission will send the Rashid rover to the lunar surface as the country takes its next step in the space sector.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre announced the move on Twitter on Thursday.

"This date is subject to change depending on the weather status or other conditions," it said.

Rocket launches require the best possible conditions and postponements are common.

The mission was initially given a launch window of November 9 to 15, before that was put back to November 22 and then November 28.

The rover will be sent to the Moon on board the Hakuto-R lander made by Japanese company ispace.

Weighing 10kg, the rover was built by a small team of Emiratis at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai.

The four-wheel vehicle will spend one lunar day on the Moon's surface to study its geology and dust. It is expected to capture thousands of images of its surroundings with high-resolution cameras.

Emirati engineers behind the mission have been in Florida to make final preparations for the launch.

What happens on launch day?

On launch day, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will take the lander into orbit, where it will begin its solo journey to the Moon.

The reusable rocket generates a thrust of more than 771 tonnes at sea level to blast off into space.

Mission milestones for Hakuto-R Mission 1 lunar lander. Photo: ispace

The lander is expected to reach the Moon by the end of April.

It is set to land in the Atlas Crater, on the south-eastern outer edge of the Mare Frigoris, or Sea of Cold.

“Careful consideration of the target site criteria included continuous sun-illumination duration and communication visibility from the Earth,” ispace said.

Busy times on the Moon

Ispace is one of several companies that have set its sights on the Moon.

Nasa's $4.1 billion Artemis 1 mission launched last week from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on one of the most powerful rockets the US agency has built.

The mission was postponed several times.

US company Astrobotic Technology plans to launch its Peregrine lunar lander next year, with payloads from eight countries.

Updated: November 24, 2022, 9:32 AM