The historic launch of the UAE Moon Mission’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has been launched on Sunday. The four-wheel Rashid rover has completed its final integration with the launch vehicle, the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lunar lander, lifted off from the launch pad Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. According to reports, the additional pre-flight inspections required for the launch vehicle were the cause of the delay previously.
It is the UAE’s first mission to the Moon, with additional rovers planned in the future. The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in the UAE employed Emirati engineers to develop the Rashid rover, which will be deployed to previously unexplored areas of the Moon.
UAE and Japan’s Joint Lunar Mission
The exploratory mission of the Rashid lunar rover is expected to last for one lunar day, which is equal to 14 days on Earth. In order to aid researchers in better understanding the moon’s electrically charged environment and other characteristics, Rashid will deploy its suite of instruments once ispace’s lander named HAKUTO-R (integrated launch vehicle for Rashid) touches down at the Atlas crater on the southeastern outer edge of Mare Frigoris. The spacecraft will take a low-energy route to the Moon rather than a direct approach once launched. This suggests that the rover will arrive in April 2023, around five months after the launch.
This mission serves as ispace’s technical testbed for the creation of more sophisticated landers on upcoming missions. According to the official statement of ispace, “The accumulated data and experience from M1 will be incorporated into future designs and operations to enhance missions, beginning immediately with Mission 2, which is already in the development stage and is scheduled for 2024.”
Mare Frigoris- The landing site of the Rashid rover
Mare Frigoris was chosen for Rashid Rover’s exploration location since it has not been explored before, as well as for its benefits in terms of communication visibility from Earth and constant solar illumination. The 10 kg Rashid Rover, named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, a former ruler of Dubai, will investigate the surface plasma conditions of the Moon and offer solutions to long-standing questions about lunar dust movement, mobility on the lunar surface, and how various surfaces interact with particles. The rover will explore the characteristics of lunar soil and the Moon’s photoelectron sheath. It will relay data and photographs back to Earth using two high-resolution thermal and microscopic cameras.
Development of Rashid Rover
The rover has undergone a number of demanding internal and external reviews over the past five months. The evaluations were developed to assess each of the rover’s numerous systems and subsystems during the launch, cruise, and descent phases. The Emirates Lunar Mission (ELM) rover finished the flight model’s construction and the first round of full-functioning testing at the start of the year in the MBRSC laboratories. This testing phase evaluated every piece of gear and software’s functioning in every conceivable on-surface (lunar) situation. At the Electro-Optics Centre of Excellence (EOCE) laboratories of the EDGE, located in Abu Dhabi, the model was also put through a rigorous vibration test during this phase.
The Rashid rover underwent a variety of environmental testing at Toulouse, France, during the second phase. Two aspects of the evaluation were included in this: The Rover was heated and cooled to replicate the pressures and temperatures it would experience on its voyage through space and on the surface of the Moon during the Rover’s final thermal and vacuum testing within the Airbus facility. Thorough vibration and stress testing of the flying model at the CNES Labs was part of the second and last segment of the environmental tests.
The Rover Team- UAE Moon Mission
Dr. Sara AlMaeeni, Rover Communication System and Science Lead, ELM
Reem AlMehisni, Rover Thermal Engineering Lead, ELM
Ahmad Salem, Systems Engineering Lead, ELM
Abdulla AlShehhi, Rover Mechanical Engineering Lead, ELM
Dr. Hamad AlMarzooqi, Project Manager, Emirates Lunar Mission, MBRSC
Rescheduling of the launch date
The planned launch window had previously been set for November 9–15, but ispace inc., located in Japan and responsible to land the Rashid rover on the moon, had reportedly stated that the new date of launch for Mission 1 (M1) would allow for the “best preparation.”
The Emirates Lunar Mission was then again set to launch on November 28 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket but ispace announced a new launch date due to “launch constraints such as unfavorable weather conditions.”
Now it has been delayed for the fourth time.
Watch live coverage of UAE Moon Mission
SpaceX will live-stream the launch of the first Emirati mission to the moon. You can watch it on the official YouTube channel SpaceX.
According to the Director General of Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre (MBRSC), Salem Al Marri, “We will witness the launch of the Rashid Rover, bringing us closer to our big goal: exploring the surface of the Moon and offering novel data to the scientific community.” The lunar mission is part of the UAE’s longer-term plan to become a prominent leader in space exploration. If the Emirati mission to the surface of the moon is successful, the UAE will be the fourth country in the world to land on the Moon.
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