UAE to the Moon: Meet 3 members of the team behind Rashid Rover historic launch

Behind the mission control room’s 18 workstations at MBRSC, some of the brightest minds in the UAE work relentlessly to make history


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Sun 11 Dec 2022, 8:44 PM

Last updated: Sun 11 Dec 2022, 10:33 PM

Known as the central nervous system of the Emirates Lunar Mission (ELM), the mission control room was the place to be in at the Rashid Rover launch on Sunday. Behind the room’s 18 workstations, some of the brightest minds in the country steered the UAE into the course of history.

Two kinds of operations are done inside the mission control. One is establishing the first contact with the lander and the rover. This part of the operation is done in collaboration with the Japanese lunar exploration company ispace, and will follow certain protocol.

The second kind of operation is related to the Rashid Rover. These are solely handled by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and will commence once the rover touches down on the moon.

KT spoke to three of the team members at the MBRSC, who have been a part of Rashid Rover.

Abdulla AlShehhi, rover mechanical engineering lead

Abdulla AlShehi
Abdulla AlShehi

We will have a long journey to the moon. The five months starting from now to the lunar surface is going to be a nervous journey. The critical phase will be the landing on the surface of moon, deploying the rover from the lander to the surface and starting the journey. That will be the moment when I will be able to see if my mobility systems and structural systems work perfectly on the lunar surface.

The biggest challenge is the load that comes from the lander itself, while landing on the lunar surface, it will be a very big shock load. This is a very unique spacecraft that has mobility systems- the dynamic system is very different to what we have done before. There are many moving parts like wheels, motors, gears. Those mobility parts are very critical, and we want to see exactly how they work.


It is a very compact rover with a very low mass that will go through a lot of environmental loads throughout the journey from launch up to landing. We will then have to move it on specific locations of the moon for the scientific approaches. Those things had to be built from scratch. The temperatures on the moon’s surfaces are very extreme. We had a lot of research on what materials should be used to satisfy the safety of all electronics and payloads on the Rashid Rover.

Ahmed Sharaf, electrical systems lead

The entire mission was quite challenging but rewarding. We learnt a lot. The design was the most challenging bit. We did a lot of research beforehand. Designing a system that meets all our requirements is actually the most rewarding thing.

Although the rover is designed to operate only for one lunar day, we have an ambitious plan to try and keep it alive during the night. The temperatures will go down to almost -170 degrees. It is quite a challenge, especially with the battery. The batteries that we use generally don’t survive in that temperature. So, we have tried to design a system that doesn’t solely rely on batteries. We are hopeful that the system will stay alive through at least a part of the night. We are taking things step by step. We will cross the bridge when we get to it.

Reem AlMehisni, rover thermal engineering lead

Reem AlMehisni
Reem AlMehisni

We are so excited as a team to witness the launch. It is our biggest achievement, done and led with Emirati capabilities. We are flying to the moon, and we are going to explore new and interesting scientific areas on the lunar surfaces.

My role is to develop and implement the thermal control subsystem that is part of the Rashid Rover. This system will help the rover survive the harsh thermal environment on the lunar surface during the whole mission period. It was very challenging to first of all understand that kind of environment. So, understanding and performing several tests to have the complete knowledge of it was the main obstacle during the development of my systems.

The one moment I am looking forward to is when I will Inshah Allah (God willing) receive the thermal data about the rover, and ensure that the systems I designed and implemented succeeded and proven to work and give the best performance.

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