The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has announced a new date for the launch attempt of the UAE’s first mission to the Moon.
The inaugural launch of the Rashid Rover is now scheduled to take place on Sunday, December 11, 2022, at 2.38am Eastern US Time or 11:38am UAE time.
The initial launch attempt was postponed, allowing SpaceX to perform additional pre-flight checks of the launch vehicle.
Once launched, the integrated spacecraft will take a low-energy route to the moon rather than a direct approach, which means the landing will take about five months after launch, in April 2023.
Earlier the rover was supposed to be launched on November 22, then on November 28 followed by launch dates of November 30 and December 1, 2022.
The Rashid Rover — named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, former Ruler of Dubai — has cleared all the required tests.
A successful mission would make the UAE the fourth country globally to land on the Moon.
The rover is expected to land on lunar surface about five months after the launch.
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 site was chosen along with multiple contingencies, which may be used depending on variables that occur during transit. The site meets the technical specifications of the lander technology demonstration mission and the scientific exploration objectives for the Emirates Lunar Mission.
The rover will explore the characteristics of lunar soil, dust movement, surface plasma conditions, and the Moon's photoelectron sheath.
Significance of backup dates in space launches
While the mission may have witnessed a few launch delays, experts explain backup launch dates are considered for multiple reasons.
This includes weather anomalies and any mechanical issues associated with the rocket.
This will ensure that launch agencies have enough time to analyze the space mission carefully.
Explaining the reason behind the launch delays, Sarath Raj, Project Director – Amity Dubai Satellite Ground Station and AmiSat, Amity University Dubai had earlier said, “It takes a tremendous amount of effort to launch a rocket. Numerous factors can cause launches to be delayed. The major causes of the launch delay include technical glitches in the vehicle and weather situations.”
It’s said even on a given day, there are specific periods of time or “launch windows”.
It’s during these launch windows when the rocket is permitted to launch. This can last from about half an hour to a few hours per day. But even those windows aren’t available daily.
There are also “launch periods,” which are durations of days when the moon lines up with our planet so that’s its favorable for the mission.
A launch will be canceled if a cloud layer is more than 4,500 feet thick, stretches into subfreezing temperatures, and is within 10 nautical miles of cumulus clouds. In the event of any type of precipitation, a rocket cannot launch.
The launch can be viewed on the MBRSC Livestream - www.mbrsc.ae/lunar