UAE's Rashid Rover to land on Moon after Eid Al Fitr break; earliest date announced

The lander entered the lunar orbit last month and onboard camera photographed and sent back images of its destination

by

Sahim Salim

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This image of the Moon was captured by the Canadensys multi-camera AI-enabled lunar 360-degree imaging system. Photo credit: Canadensys Aerospace/Twitter
This image of the Moon was captured by the Canadensys multi-camera AI-enabled lunar 360-degree imaging system. Photo credit: Canadensys Aerospace/Twitter

Published: Wed 12 Apr 2023, 5:49 AM

Last updated: Mon 24 Apr 2023, 1:06 PM

The UAE is getting the perfect Eid Al Fitr gift: Its rover is all set for landing on the Moon soon after the four-day holiday to celebrate the Islamic festival. Tuesday, April 25, is the earliest scheduled landing date for the HAKUTO-R Mission 1 Lunar Lander - which is carrying the Rashid Rover to the lunar surface.

Japan-based ispace announced that the landing is expected at 4.40pm (UTC), which is about 8.40pm UAE time. As on April 12, 2023, the Mission 1 lander is orbiting the Moon in an elliptical orbit at an altitude between 100km and 2,300km.


"At approximately 3.40pm (7.40pm UAE time) on April 25, 2023, the lander is scheduled to begin the landing sequence from the 100km altitude orbit. During the sequence, the lander will perform a braking burn, firing its main propulsion system to decelerate from orbit. Utilising a series of pre-set commands, the lander will ... reduce velocity in order to make a soft landing on the lunar surface. The process will take approximately one hour," said ispace.

There are three alternative landing sites, depending on which, the landing date may change. Alternative landing dates, depending on the operational status, are April 26, May 1 and May 3.


The lander entered the lunar orbit last month. After insertion into the orbit, the lander's onboard camera photographed and sent back images of its destination - the Moon.

This image was captured on March 26 from an altitude of about 2,000km from the Moon. The image shows the eastern rim of the Moon, and craters Petavius, Vendelinus, and Langrenus, according to ispace.

"To all of our supporters and everyone who has been looking forward to the day when we will land on the Moon, I am pleased to announce the scheduled landing date for Mission 1,” said Takeshi Hakamada, founder and CEO of ispace. “What we have accomplished so far is already a great achievement, and we are already applying lessons learned from this flight to our future missions. I would like to once again express my heartfelt thanks to those who have worked so hard on this mission, including the engineers who are carrying out the long-term operations since our launch back in December. The stage is set. I am looking forward to witnessing this historic day, marking the beginning of a new era of commercial lunar missions."

Named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, former Ruler of Dubai, the UAE-made Rashid Rover is the first lunar spacecraft built by an Arab country.

What happens after landing

Rashid Rover is now on its way to complete the third milestone: The Arrival Phase (entry, descent, and landing). This will be the most intense of all, as the lander will have to land on the lunar surface based on its system’s calculation to stay on course for a specific spot on the Moon.

The next is the Deployment, Commissioning and Drive-off phase. Following completion of the post-landing checkout, instrument commissioning and initial data collection will begin.

Following that is the Nominal Surface Operations phase, which is the mission itself. For 10-12 days, the Rashid rover will conduct continuous surface research and image capture.

The final two phases after the lunar day are hibernation and then decommissioning, when the rover prepares for the lunar night. When the secondary communication is activated, all information captured is downloaded. The chances of the rover restarting are slim. However, if the rover is activated after the lunar night then the mission will be extended.

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