The launch preparations for the UAE's historic mission to the Moon are now complete. Japan-based ispace inc (ispace), which will land the Rashid Rover on the Moon, said the HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander has been integrated into the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
With this, the first success milestone has been achieved: Completion of launch preparations.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) had announced earlier that the mission would launch on Wednesday, November 30, at 12.39pm UAE time.
The new date and times are “subject to change depending on weather and other conditions”, ispace added.
"We are pleased to have finished the first phase of the Mission 1 with the final preparations before launch completed,” said Takeshi Hakamada, founder and CEO of ispace.
The mission will take off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Once launched, the spacecraft will take a low-energy route to the Moon rather than a direct approach. This means that the rover will land about five months after the launch — in April 2023.
A successful mission would make the UAE the fourth country to land on the Moon.
The primary landing site of the Rashid Rover is the Atlas Crater on the southeastern outer edge of Mare Frigoris. A ‘mare’ is a flat, dark plain on the lunar surface. The site is located on the Moon's far north side and has not been explored previously.
The 10kg Rashid Rover - named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, former Ruler of Dubai - will study the Moon’s plasma and provide answers to long-standing questions about lunar dust, mobility on the lunar surface, and how different surfaces interact with particles. It will send data and images back to Earth, using two high-resolution cameras: Microscopic, and thermal imaging ones.
Over the last four months, the Rashid Rover was placed under a series of rigorous internal and external reviews. All of its systems and subsystems were carefully tested at various stages — from the launch and the cruise, all the way to the planned descent.
All the functionalities of the hardware and software were trialled in a setting that simulates all possible scenarios on the lunar surface.
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