UAE Lunar Mission: Team arrives in Florida for launch of first rover to the moon

The country's Rashid Rover is said to blast off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on November 22 (or later)


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Wed 16 Nov 2022, 2:34 PM

Last updated: Wed 16 Nov 2022, 3:54 PM

A team from the UAE’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre (MBRSC) has reached Florida (US) for the launch of the nascent Emirati Mission to Moon.

Salem Al Marri, Director General of Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre (MBRSC) took to Twitter to announce that he and his team have arrived in Florida this week for the liftoff of the first Lunar Mission.

“In Florida this week with our team", said Al Marri. "We are preparing for the launch of the 1st Emirati mission to the Moon. We will also attend the #Artemis 1 launch tomorrow (today), and we are preparing with NASA for Sultan Al Neyadi’s launch next year.”

The UAE's mission to the Moon – Rashid Rover is said to blast off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on November 22 (or later).

The target launch window was earlier set on November 9-15 but Japan-based ispace inc, which will land the Rashid Rover on the lunar surface, had apparently expressed that its Mission 1’s (M1) new date would lead to the “best preparation”.


“With the launch target of November 22 or later, we will create history", Al Marri said. "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 lander is part of the Hakuto-R programme and will carry multiple commercial and government payloads, including two rovers to the surface of the moon.

After its launch, M1 will be operated from the Hakuto-R Mission Control Centre (MCC) in Tokyo’s central business district, Nihonbashi. The MCC will monitor the lander's attitude, temperature, and other conditions, send commands and data to the lander, and receive images and video data during transit to the moon as well as from the lunar surface.

Earlier, the Emirates Lunar Mission team spent time rehearsing their roles and individual surface goals for when the landing day will take the centre stage.

Dr Hamad AlMarzooqi Emirates Lunar Mission Project Manager, noted: “We have progressively improved our understanding of how the rover and ground systems interact, and our teams have mastered Moon surface operations. Everything we have learned will help us complete the mission on the Moon’s surface.”

Rover's Landing site

The rover’s primary landing site on the moon is Lacus Somniorum, also known as the Lake of Dreams – an area that is yet to be explored.

Located on the northeastern side of the moon, Lacus Somniorum is characterised by its unique composition formed by flows of basaltic lava, which give it a reddish hue.

The landing is said to take around five months after launch, in March 2023.

Imminent challenges

While the temperature on the moon varies dramatically between day and night, one of the biggest challenges that the rover faces is withstanding the harsh environment on the moon, where the temperature can reach minus 200 degrees Celsius.

The Rashid rover is expected to operate for only one lunar day – equivalent to 29 days on Earth – avoiding the cold of the lunar night.

Authorities in the UAE have already tested the 10 kg moon rover in the desert. A video posted in early March by the Dubai Media Office showed it navigating the desert sands successfully at different times of the day and night.

Capabilities of the rover

The four-wheeled, 21-by-21-inch, solar-powered rover carries a pair of high-resolution cameras, a thermal imager and a microscopic imager.

It also carries an instrument for investigating the electrically charged environment at the lunar surface, and will be generating thousands of images and useful science data throughout the lunar day.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has partnered with the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), which is the French government space agency, to deliver two optical cameras for Space Exploration (CASPEX) for the Rashid rover.

The CASPEX camera on top of the rover’s mast will provide panoramic visibility of the rover's surroundings.

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