UAE’s mission to the Moon: Lander arrives in US as new launch window announced

The company had previously announced a target window of November 9-15


Sahim Salim

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Published: Mon 31 Oct 2022, 2:41 PM

Last updated: Mon 31 Oct 2022, 9:07 PM

The UAE’s mission to the moon now has an updated launch window. Japan-based ispace inc (ispace), which will land the Rashid Rover on the moon, said its Mission 1 (M1) lunar lander will launch “no earlier than November 22, 2022”.

The company had previously announced a target window of November 9-15.

The updated target launch date decision — taken in coordination with SpaceX — allows for “best preparation for the mission when considering the fuel-loading schedule for the lander and launch date availability”.

An updated launch date will be announced once confirmed, the company added.

Founder and CEO of ispace Takeshi Hakamada said the M1 lunar lander was delivered by cargo plane to the United States and is now in Cape Canaveral, Florida. It will blast off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying multiple commercial and government payloads, including two rovers to the surface of the moon.

Hakamada said: “On our first mission, we are honoured to work with Nasa to complete a commercial transaction of lunar regolith and carry payloads from agencies including Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) along with our commercial customers and partners. I am very proud of our team for their work to make this a reality. I look forward to this launch as well as our subsequent missions in the near future.”

Following the launch, M1 will be operated from the HAKUTO-R Mission Control Centre (MCC) located in Tokyo’s central business district, Nihonbashi. The MCC will monitor the lander’s attitude, operational state, and other conditions, send commands and data to the lander, and receive images and telemetry among other data during transit to the moon as well as from the lunar surface.

Earlier this month, the MBRSC announced that the Rashid Rover — named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, former Ruler of Dubai — has cleared all required tests.

The rover was exposed to a series of “rigorous” internal and external reviews designed to “test out every one of the multitudes of systems and subsystems” during the launch, cruise, and descent stages.

A successful mission would make the UAE the fourth country globally to land on the moon.

The rover would land in an unexplored area called ‘Mare Frigoris’ on the moon. Also known as the ‘Sea of Cold’, Mare Frigoris lies in the far lunar north, according to Nasa. A ‘mare’ is a flat, dark plain on the lunar surface.

The primary goal of the mission is to study the moon’s plasma. It will provide answers about Moon dust and mobility on the lunar surface, among others.

The mission will see the rover collect images and information that allows the UAE to study how to build a human settlement on the moon, prepare for future missions to study Mars, and provide the scientific community with answers about the solar system.


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