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As it happened: UAE Moon mission

The notable events in the run-up to Japan's ispace losing contact with the spacecraft carrying the Emirates' Rashid rover

Live Updates
Apr 25, 2023, 09:15 PM

Japan's ispace loses contact with spacecraft carrying UAE's Rashid rover 

Ispace chief executive Takeshi Hakamada said it was not yet possible to confirm if the landing was successful. Reuters

Ispace says it has lost contact with its Hakuto-R Mission 1 spacecraft after it attempted a lunar landing. 

The spacecraft is carrying the UAE's Rashid rover and was expected to make a soft landing at 8.40pm. 

A tense mission control in Tokyo waited for more than 30 minutes to secure communications with the spacecraft after the touchdown was expected. 

"At this moment, we have not been able to confirm successful landing on the lunar surface," ispace chief executive Takeshi Hakamada said. 

"Our engineers and mission control centre continue to investigate the current status of the lander.

"We have not been to confirm communication with the lander. We established communication until the end of the landing, however, now we lost communication.

"We have to assume that we could not complete the landing on the lunar surface."

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Apr 25, 2023, 08:52 PM

Ispace determining whether landing attempt was a success 

A simulation of the landing attempt.

Ispace, the Japanese company that built the Hakuto-R Mission 1 spacecraft, is waiting to see whether the landing attempt was successful.

A tense mission control room in Tokyo is still waiting for telemetry from the spacecraft, even though the landing should have already happened at 8.40pm GST. 

Ispace has currently paused its livestream as it determines whether the landing was a success or not. 

Apr 25, 2023, 08:37 PM

Spacecraft with Rashid rover on board minutes away from landing attempt

The Japanese lander has reappeared from the back side of the Moon and has begun its braking burn — a process that will see it significantly reduce its speed to touch down softly on the lunar surface. 

The landing is expected to happen in the next five minutes.

Apr 25, 2023, 08:21 PM

Spacecraft begins its lunar descent 

The Hakuto-R Mission 1 spacecraft, which is carrying the UAE's Rashid rover, has begun lowering its altitude to get closer to the lunar surface for a landing attempt. 

It was flying at speeds of 6,000kph, but had to slow down to about 625kph as it moved closer to the surface. 

There is currently a communication blackout because the spacecraft is flying on the other side of the Moon. Ispace expects connection to be re-established a few minutes before touchdown. 

The six-phase landing process will see the lander continuously reduce speed and altitude, and adjust its attitude (positioning in space) to a vertical position. 

In phase two, it will descend from 100km to 25km above the lunar surface. Phase three will see the spacecraft braking, which starts 13 minutes before landing. 

Apr 25, 2023, 07:53 PM

Spacecraft carrying UAE's Rashid rover begins lunar landing sequence 

Inside ispace's mission control in Tokyo. Photo: ispace

The Hakuto-R Mission 1 spacecraft, which is carrying the UAE's Rashid rover, has initiated its lunar landing sequence. 

The hour-long process will see the Japanese spacecraft, built by ispace, fly around the Moon and then autonomously descend on to the lunar surface. 

A livestream showing scenes inside ispace's mission control has begun on the company's YouTube channel. 

Apr 25, 2023, 05:35 PM

How to watch UAE's Moon mission

The Moon as seen from the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander. Photo: ispace

Ispace will hold a gathering at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The event will be streamed live on ispace's YouTube channel, with scenes from mission control expected to be broadcast.

The broadcast will begin at 7pm.

The Rashid rover is scheduled to complete its attempt to land on the lunar surface at about 8.40pm.

The National will be providing live updates on its momentous journey throughout the evening.

Apr 25, 2023, 05:27 PM

UAE space centre chief is staying positive 

Salem Al Marri, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. Pawan Singh / The National

The UAE's space centre chief said his team was staying positive as a spacecraft prepared to land an Emirati-built rover on the lunar surface today.

A Japanese spacecraft, called Hakuto-R Mission 1, will attempt a lunar landing at 8.40pm GST, after a voyage to the Moon of almost five months, with the Rashid rover and other international payloads stored inside it.

Salem Al Marri, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, said he was optimistic about the outcome.

“Looking at the Hakuto-R and Rashid rover, I'm definitely optimistic that we get a successful landing,” he said.

“And then, of course, there's another critical moment, which is the deployment of Rashid rover on the surface of the Moon, after checking out all the systems, turning it on and starting our operations, which will be in the next couple of days after the landing.

“Those critical moments are a little bit nerve-racking, but we have full confidence in the team.”

Read space editor Sarwat Nasir's full interview here

Apr 25, 2023, 05:20 PM

How will Rashid rover land on the Moon?

The landing sequence of the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lunar lander. Photo: ispace

The Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander entered lunar orbit on March 21.

In the weeks since, it has been edging closer to the surface of the Moon through a series of carefully-orchestrated manoeuvres.

Now landing day has finally arrived. It will begin an hour-long landing sequence 100km above the surface.

Its main propulsion system will be fired in what is known as a braking burn, to help it decelerate from orbit.

Engineers have already programmed its commands, which means the lander will adjust its attitude (positioning in space) and reduce speed to make a soft landing.

Read more on the intricate landing process here

Apr 25, 2023, 05:02 PM

UAE's Rashid rover set for historic lunar landing bid

The UAE's Rashid rover will attempt to land on the Moon on Tuesday evening. Antonie Robertson / The National

Welcome to The National's live blog charting the Rashid rover's historic lunar landing attempt this evening.

It will mark the start of a momentous week for the UAE's space programme, which will be capped off by Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi's spacewalk on Friday.

The Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander carrying the rover will begin an hour-long landing sequence at 7.40pm GST.

If the landing is a success, the rover will then descend on to the surface at about 8.40pm.

The UAE would then become the first Arab nation to have a spacecraft on the surface of another celestial body.

Ispace, the company which built the mission lander, will live stream the event on its YouTube channel from 7pm.