Despite loss of Rashid Rover, UAE team proud after getting so close to the Moon

The MBRSC team is inspired and believes that greater accomplishments are yet to come in their pursuit of space exploration

By Sahim Salim and Nasreen Abdulla

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Image used for illustrative purpose. Photo: ispace
Image used for illustrative purpose. Photo: ispace

Published: Wed 26 Apr 2023, 11:01 AM

Last updated: Wed 26 Apr 2023, 10:26 PM

Despite the unsuccessful landing of HAKUTO-R Mission 1 that was carrying the UAE’s Rashid Rover to the Moon, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) is “proud of its achievements”. The centre vowed to continue marching forward in its space programmes.

In its first official statement since the Japanese spacecraft made a hard landing on the lunar surface, the MBRSC said: “After getting this close to the Moon, the MBRSC team is inspired and believes that greater accomplishments are yet to come in our pursuit of space exploration.”

The spacecraft was mere moments away from landing when the ground control team in Tokyo lost communication with it. An animation based on live telemetry data showed the M1 lander touch down on the lunar surface, but Japan-based ispace said “there is a high probability that the lander eventually made a hard landing on the Moon's surface”. Had it landed successfully, the Emirati rover would have rolled out on the Moon's Atlas crater located on the outer edge of Mare Frigoris (Sea of Cold). This is an unexplored area in the northeastern quadrant of the Moon.

The MBRSC said: “While the Rashid Rover and other payloads onboard the lander did not get the chance to continue on their respective missions, the team at MBRSC is still proud of the achievements, including developing a rover and becoming the first Emirati and Arab lunar mission to enter the Moon's orbit.”

MBRSC also commended the efforts of everyone involved and thanked its partners. “Post the ispace announcement regarding the unsuccessful landing of HAKUTO-R Mission 1, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre commends the remarkable efforts of the mission partner ispace, who tirelessly worked towards the goal of landing safely on the lunar surface.”

M1 carrying the Rashid Rover blasted off in December and went on a 135-day journey to attempt to land on the Moon.

Proudly built by Emirati hands

Weighing just 10kg, the rover was designed and built in the UAE by a 100 per cent Emirati team of engineers, experts, and researchers. It was entirely solar-powered and equipped with four cameras, including microscopic and thermal ones.

Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology, highlighted how the Hakuto-R lander was a “pioneering concept” as it was the first attempted landing on the Moon by a private sector operator.

“Its loss has consequently meant the loss of the Rashid Rover, which was to have explored new regions of the Moon,” she said.

She hailed the years of hard work and dedication from MBRSC engineers, but said these have not only further developed the capabilities and skillsets of the Emirates’ space sector, “but have ensured that the whole sector has learned and moved ahead in leaps and bounds”.

“We continue to have the opportunity to consolidate our work, learn from our setbacks and continue to strive to pursue ground-breaking space systems engineering, science and the development of our vibrant private space sector,” she added.

Salem AlMarri, Director-General of the MBRSC, shared photos of the rover being developed in the UAE and said the unsuccessful landing attempt marks only the beginning of a “promising journey of exploration”.

“Our colleagues have developed the first Emirati and Arab Rover; a notable achievement in and of itself and one we can all stand proudly behind. Thank you to the entire team for their unwavering devotion and hard work. We also thank our mission partners, ispace and CNES for their commendable efforts and their spirit of collaboration,” said AlMarri.

He said the UAE leaders have taught the country to achieve goals through bold ambition and dedication. “They encourage us to make the impossible possible. Challenges and difficulties are an inherent part of space missions, and particularly for lunar landings. By embarking on difficult missions, we learn, we improve and we progress,” he added.

The MBRSC had earlier highlighted the challenges that could face the lander:

  • Lander derailing from its trajectory
  • Harsh landing due to environmental changes or lander faults
  • Communication loss
  • Surface threats like craters and boulders.


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